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Problem gambling, associations with comorbid health conditions, substance use, and behavioural addictions: Opportunities for pathways to treatment

Madison Ford and Anders Håkansson

PLOS ONE, 2020, vol. 15, issue 1, 1-20

Abstract: Background: Problem gambling is a public health issue and its comorbidity with other health conditions may provide an opportunity for screening in healthcare settings; however, a high level of uncertainty and a lack of research in the field remains. The objective of this study is to investigate potential associations between problem gambling and numerous other health conditions, including substance use, mental health problems, and behavioural addictions. Methods: A cross-sectional web-survey was distributed by a market research company to an online panel of respondents in Sweden, which aimed to be representative of the general population. Chi-squared and Mann-Whitney U tests, followed by logistic regression analysis, were performed to determine associations between screening positive for lifetime problem gambling and potential comorbid conditions and behaviours. Results: Among 2038 participants, 5.7 percent screened positive for lifetime problem gambling. Significant associations were found between problem gambling and male gender, education level, daily tobacco use, moderate psychological distress, problematic shopping, and problem gaming. Conclusion: The association between screening for problem gambling and other health conditions, including psychological distress and behavioural addictions such as shopping and gaming, demonstrates the need to screen for problem gambling in the context of other health hazards, such as in different healthcare settings. Further research is required to identify the temporal relationship between these conditions and to investigate underlying etiological mechanisms.

Date: 2020
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DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0227644

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