On the latent structure of problem gambling: A taxometric analysis

Abstract

Aims: To test whether problem gambling is a categorical or dimensional disorder on the basis of two problem gambling assessments. This distinction discriminates between two different conceptualizations of problem gambling: one that problem gambling is defined by its addictive properties, the other that it is a continuum of harm. Method: Using The British Gambling Prevalence Survey 2010, a nationally representative sample of the United Kingdom conducted by the National Centre for Social Research, five different taxometric analyses were carried out on cases from two problem gambling screens: the Problem Gambling Severity Index (PGSI) and a measure derived from the DSM-IV Pathological Gambling criteria. Two further analyses were conducted on the total scores for these measures. Results: There was strong evidence that both scales were measuring a categorical construct. Fit indices consistently supported a categorical interpretation [comparison curve fit index (CCFI) > 0.6]. The PGSI analysis indicated the presence of a taxon (CCFIs = 0.633, 0.756). The analysis conducted on the adapted DSM-IV criteria indicated stronger quantitative support for a taxon (CCFIs = 0.717, 0.811 and 0.756) but items probing a loss of control were inconsistent. The taxometric analyses of both scales support a categorical interpretation (CCFIs = 0.628, 0.567), but extreme caution should be used due to high nuisance covariance. Conclusions: Two problem gambling screens (the Problem Gambling Severity Index and a measure derived from the DSM-IV Pathological Gambling criteria) appear to measure a categorical construct that taps into a categorical, loss of control model of problem gambling. There is some evidence that the two screens measure different aspects of an addiction construct.

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