Risk and protective factors associated with youth problem gambling

Abstract

Risk factors for youth gambling problems are best understood within an ecological model recognizing the interwoven relationship that exists between the individual and their environment. Empirical studies covering individual, relationship, community, and societal factors associated with adolescent gambling problems are reviewed. The cumulative body of research suggests that males who are exposed to gambling at an earlier age are at greater risk of developing gambling problems. Individuals who report poor family cohesion, have family members or friends who also gamble, and those exposed to and engaged in a wider variety of gambling options are at greater risk. Adolescents with impulsive, high sensation-seeking personalities and exhibit emotion-focused coping styles are more likely to experience gambling problems. Anxiety, depression, {ADHD}, poor academic performance, substance use, and delinquency are also strong predictors. Many of these risk factors appear to predict a general behavior syndrome encompassed by overall mental health problems, substance abuse, delinquency, and problem gambling. Increased exposure to gambling opportunities and marketing of gambling is recognized as a potential risk factor at a community level while gambling-permissive cultures may instill positive attitudes and beliefs toward gambling. A call is made for more research that can identify the causal risk factors that lead to gambling problems among youth which will ultimately improve our prevention efforts.

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