• Vol. 40 No. 6, 264–268
  • 15 June 2011

Quality of Life in Pathological Gamblers in a Multiethnic Asian Setting



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Introduction: Few studies have examined the impact of pathological gambling on quality of life especially in the Asian context. The aim of the current study was to examine the quality of life in pathological gamblers in a multiracial population in Singapore and we hypothesised that those with pathological gambling would have poorer quality of life as compared to controls.

Materials and Methods: Forty subjects with “compulsive gambling behaviour” were recruited and matched (for gender and age) with 40 controls. Subjects with pathological gambling were compared with control subjects with regard to sociodemographic data as well as on the World Health Organization Quality of Life assessment - abbreviated version (WHOQOL-BREF).

Results: A one-way MANOVA revealed that pathological gamblers had significantly diminished quality of life as compared with the healthy controls using the summary scores of the 4 domains of quality of life (Pillai’s Trace = 0.338, F = 9.5, P <0.001). Univariate tests indicated subjects with pathological gambling scored significantly lower on physical health, psychological, social relationships and environment domains of quality of life compared with subjects without pathological gambling.

Conclusion: Our study found that those with pathological gambling had lower scores than the controls in all the domains of the quality of life scale. The impact and the extent of pathological gambling on the quality of life should be borne in mind — not only as a consideration in the management but also as an important indicator of treatment outcome of pathological gamblers.

Pathological gambling is categorized under the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition (DSM-IV-TR) as an impulse control disorder not elsewhere classified. The disorder is characterised by an excess preoccupation with gambling, need to gamble with increasing amounts of money in order to achieve the desired excitement, “chasing” one’s losses and gambling despite negative consequences like jeopardizing or losing a significant relationship, job, or educational or career opportunity. It also has significant negative consequences for the individual, ranging from financial losses to bankruptcy and legal problems. Pathological gambling has been associated with a number of psychiatric disorders. A recent study found that 67.5% of pathological gamblers met DSM-IV criteria for at least one other comorbid lifetime disorder: the most common disorders were substance abuse disorders, mood disorders and anxiety disorders. Given the association of pathological gambling with adverse life events and comorbidity, it is expected that pathological gamblers would report a significantly reduced quality of life.

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