Pathological gambling: Clinical gender differences

Abstract

Little is known about gender-related differences among pathological gamblers in clinical samples because available data on the etiology and treatment of pathological gambling have involved predominantly male patients. However, significant gender differences in the clinical presentation of pathological gambling exist. Female gamblers are older than men and more likely to be divorced or widowed and to have a lower annual income. Women became more dependent on bingo and men on slot machines. Gambling motivation and the course of illness for the two sexes are also different. Female gamblers are more anxious and have poorer self-esteem than male gamblers and are more affected by depressive symptoms; in turn, men are more impulsive and greater sensation seekers than women and are more affected by drug/alcohol abuse. Among female gamblers, 70 % reported being victims of intimate partner violence. There are no gender differences with regard to the motivation for treatment. Future research should examine gambling behaviors and psychological functioning and suggest treatment approaches to address specific goals according to these gender-related differences.

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