Unhealthy gambling amongst New Zealand secondary school students: An exploration of risk and protective factors

Abstract

This study sought to determine the prevalence of gambling and unhealthy gambling behaviour and describe risk and protective factors associated with these behaviours amongst a nationally representative sample of New Zealand secondary school students (n = 8,500). Factor analysis and item response theory were used to develop a model to provide a measure of ‘unhealthy gambling’. Logistic regressions and multiple logistic regression models were used to investigate associations between unhealthy gambling behaviour and selected outcomes. Approximately one-quarter (24.2 %) of students had gambled in the last year, and 4.8 % had two or more indicators of unhealthy gambling. Multivariate analyses found that unhealthy gambling was associated with four main factors: more accepting attitudes towards gambling (p < 0.0001); gambling via gambling machines/casinos/track betting (p = 0.0061); being worried about and/or trying to cut down on gambling (p < 0.0001); and, having attempted suicide (p = 0.0009). Unhealthy gambling is a significant health issue for young people in New Zealand. Ethnic and social inequalities were apparent and these disparities need to be addressed.

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