This study aimed to explore the developmental stages of gambling habits in order to better evaluate the burden of problem gambling across the life trajectory.
Secondly, we wished to analyze treatment-seeking behaviour (or lack thereof) and better understand the disparity between services needed and services received within different sub-groups of the gambling population. To do this, we recruited 86 gamblers who currently display, or have displayed during the last five years, at-risk gambling behaviour (as defined by SOGS). The subjects provided clinical data on the presence of mental health problems, their gambling trajectories, adversity faced over their life course, and their history of services sought and services received for mental health problems.
The results point to three distinct groups with different gambling trajectories.
The results point to three distinct groups with different gambling trajectories. Members of the first group were exposed to gambling at an early age, by their teens, and continued to enjoy recreational gambling for a long period of time before developing pathological gambling problems in their forties or fifties. The second group began recreational gambling later in life, in their forties, but quickly developed pathological gambling problems in their fifties.
And finally, the third group was exposed to recreational gambling even later and developed pathological gambling problems towards 60-70 years of age, often after retirement. We note high rates of mental illness: 98 % of the subjects have suffered from at least one mental disorder during their lifetime. These include pathological gambling (78%), mood disorders (60 %), substance addiction (41%), anxiety disorders (23%), personality disorders (34%) and attempted suicide (22%). Over the past six months, 62% have experienced a mental disorder including pathological gambling (46%), mood disorders (23%), substances addiction (10%) and anxiety disorders (11%).
Analysis of service utilization indicates that the participants sought out medical and specialized mental health services (including addiction services) far more frequently than psychosocial services. The disparity between services needed and services received is greatest when it comes to referral and assessment services, psychotherapy and follow-up after self-exclusion.
Monique Séguin, Université du Québec en Outaouais
Deposit of the research report: June 2012