Pathological gambling and impulsivity: An Italian study

Abstract

Aim: Although the precise nature of pathological gambling (PG) is still elusive, currently it is considered an impulse-control disorder that shares several features with substance dependence, such as deficit in self-regulation and impaired impulsivity. The aim of this study was to evaluate the impulsivity of PG patients by means of the Barratt Impulsivity Scale, version 11 (BIS-11), as compared with healthy control subjects, and to explore the possible correlations with gambling severity. Methods: Thirty-five outpatients (all men) with a diagnosis of PG were recruited at their first psychiatric interview in a psychiatric outpatient ward, and compared with a similar group of healthy control subjects. The severity of PG was assessed by means of the South Oaks Gambling Screen (SOGS). Results: The results showed that the BIS-11 total score, as well as the scores of different factors (motor impulsity and cognitive complexity) and subscales (motor and non-planning impulsivity) were significantly higher in PG patients than in control subjects. In addition, positive correlations were detected between the SOGS and the BIS-11 total scores, and the attention and cognitive instability factor scores, or the attentional and motor impulsivity (rs = 0.459, p = .021) subscale scores. Conclusions: These findings support the notion that impulsivity represents a core element of PG linked to the severity of the clinical picture.

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