Psychological vulnerability and gambling in later life

Abstract

OBJECTIVES:
Because behavioral problems often emerge from maladaptive coping methods, we investigated whether unmet basic psychological needs evolve toward a level of psychological vulnerability that puts older adults who gamble at risk for becoming problem gamblers.

METHODS:
Data from a community sample of 379 adults ages 60 and above were analyzed using structural equation modeling. Participants responded to items regarding their demographics, gambling frequency, engagement in at-risk gambling behaviors, and the extent to which their basic psychological needs were met.

RESULTS:
Satisfaction of basic psychological needs among older adults who gamble was negatively associated with their being at risk for developing a gambling problem. Satisfaction of basic psychological needs also mediated the negative effect of socioeconomic status on at-risk gambling behavior.

CONCLUSION:
Social workers should become mindful of how older adults, who are confronting psychological vulnerabilities in later life, might well turn to gambling as a maladaptive coping mechanism.

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