Predicting treatment failure in pathological gambling: The role of personality traits


The aim of this study was twofold: First, to assess the personality profile of treatment-seeking adult outpatients with pathological gambling compared to a matched control group under the Alternative Five Factor Model perspective, and second, to determine which personality variables would predict treatment outcome.

The final total sample consisted of 44 consecutive treatment-seeking pathological gamblers (PGs) and 88 controls paired by age and sex who completed the Zuckerman-Kuhlman Personality Questionnaire (ZKPQ). Twelve months after starting an open program of individual cognitive-behavioral therapy, PGs were categorized as abstinent or treatment failure.

PGs scored significantly higher on Neuroticism-Anxiety. Those who had relapsed or dropped out showed higher Impulsivity and Sensation Seeking scores. Impulsivity emerged as a significant predictor of treatment failure. Treatment-seeking PGs scored higher on Neuroticism-Anxiety and Impulsivity appeared as a risk factor of relapsing or dropping out.

Our findings support the importance of individual differences in personality on therapy outcomes. The ZKPQ may constitute a useful tool to identify these individual differences that might be considered when making personalized treatment decisions to improve the effectiveness and quality of treatment interventions.

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