Mindfulness and problem gambling: A review of the literature

Abstract

This article reviews the literature with respect to mindfulness and its potential for reducing the severity of problem gambling behaviour. Interest in the role of mindfulness as a treatment for problem gambling has gained the attention of researchers across Australia, the United States, and Canada. However, the literature is limited and current studies have severe methodological limitations. Despite this issue, investigations have revealed that dispositional mindfulness is related to less severe problem gambling outcomes and that psychological distress, overconfidence and risk willingness, myopic focus on reward and ego involvement may act as mediators in this relationship. Moreover, the literature indicates that the inverse relationship between dispositional mindfulness and psychological distress may be mediated by factors such as values clarification; emotional, cognitive, and behavioural flexibility; non-attachment; emotion dysregulation/distress intolerance; thought suppression; and rumination. This article discusses the theoretical and clinical implications of these relationships with respect to mindfulness-based interventions for problem gambling. It is recommended that the approach be considered with cautious optimism.

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