Psychological vulnerability and gambling in later life


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.

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.

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.

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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