Problem gambling and internalising symptoms: A longitudinal analysis of common and specific social environmental protective factors

Abstract

Comorbidity between problem gambling and internalising disorders (anxiety and depression) has long been recognised. However, it is not clear how these relationships develop, and what factors can foster resilience to both conditions. The current study draws on longitudinal cohort data to investigate: 1) the crosssectional and longitudinal relationships between problem gambling and internalising symptoms; 2) whether there are common and/or specific social environmental factors protective against both internalising symptoms and problem gambling in young adulthood; and 3) interactive protective factors (i.e., those that moderate the relationship between problem gambling and internalising symptoms). Methods: A sample of 2248 young adults (55% female) completed a survey in 2010 (T1) and 2012 (T2) which assessed problem gambling (measured via two items based on established measures), internalising symptoms, and social environmental protective factors. Results: A positive cross-sectional relationship between problem gambling and internalising symptoms was found; however, there was no statistically significant longitudinal relationship between the two conditions. Protective factors for internalising symptoms were observed within the domains of the community, family and peer group; however, there were no statistically significant protective factors identified for problem gambling. Conclusions: These findings demonstrate that the social environmental protective factors for adult internalising symptoms assessed in the present study are poor longitudinal predictors of young adult problem gambling. Given the lack of common protective factors, it may be necessary to focus on separate factors to protect against each condition, if we are to address the comorbidity between problem gambling and internalising symptoms.

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