Risk factors for pathological gambling along a continuum of severity: Individual and relational variables

Abstract

This study’s aim was to identify characteristics with higher odds of distinguishing a group of pathological gamblers (PG) from (1) a group of gamblers without a gambling problem (NP) and 2) a sub-clinical group (SP). An additional aim was to investigate those characteristics as risk/protective factors along the continuum of problem-gambling severity. Sociodemographic (gender, age, marital status, and educational level), individual (psychopathological symptoms) and relational (family functioning, dyadic adjustment, and differentiation of self) variables were considered.

The sample consisted of 331 participants: 162 NP, 117 SP and 52 PG. The main results indicate that the characteristics with higher odds of distinguishing among the groups were gender, educational level, age, differentiation of self, and psychopathological symptoms.

The odds of being a PG were higher for men with a low educational level and less adaptive psycho-relational functioning. Conversely, the odds of being a NP were higher for women with a high educational level and more adaptive psycho-relational functioning. Gender and educational level stood out with respect to their relevance as risk/protective factors, and their role was found to be dynamic and interdependent with the severity of problem gambling and/or the investigated psycho-relational characteristics. The risk/protective value was more remarkable when gamblers already exhibited SP.

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