Population prevalence of problem gambling in Massachusetts: Results of a comprehensive baseline survey and implications for state mental & behavioral health systems


Problem gambling has struggled to find its home in the world of mental and behavioral health. Originally included in the DSM-III in the “Impulse Control Disorders not Elsewhere Classified,” section, the disorder was moved to the “Substance-Related and Addictive Disorders” section in the DSM-5. While this helped normalize the issue, recognition of problem gambling as a public health issue is not widespread. A national prevalence survey (1999) estimated that 1.7% of the US population has a gambling problem. Prior research identified substance use disorders, mood disorders, and anxiety disorders as the co-occurring conditions most common among individuals with gambling problems. Despite these adverse outcomes, little is known about gambling-related mental health disorders and co-occurring conditions. A large baseline population survey (n=9,578) was conducted in MA (2014) to assess gambling participation, problem gambling status, awareness of prevention programs, and use of mental health services to treat gambling disorders.

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