• Vol. 39 No. 2, 122–128
  • 15 February 2010

Socio-demographic Profile and Psychiatric Comorbidity of Subjects with Pathological Gambling



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Introduction: Pathological gambling is defined as the failure to resist the impulse to gamble despite disruption to personal, family and vocational life. It appears to be highly comorbid with psychiatric disorders. This study aims to describe the socio-demographic profile and comorbidity of 40 pathological gamblers compared to controls.

Materials and Methods: Questionnaires were administered to 40 cases (90% male, mean age = 38.3, SD = 10.0) scoring 5 or more in the South Oaks Gambling Screen (SOGS) and verified to be pathological gamblers based on DSM-IV criteria and 40 age-and-gender-matched controls.

Results: Study results showed that the prevalence of lifetime DSM-IV diagnoses were significantly different between cases and controls (χ² = 16.4, P <0.001), with 67.5% of the cases and 22.5% of the controls meeting the criteria, respectively. Eighty percent of the cases had at least one personality disorder compared to 45% in the control (χ² = 10.5, P <0.005). The common lifetime disorders observed in the cases were substance abuse disorder and anxiety while common personality disorders were obsessive-compulsive, avoidant and paranoid.

Conclusion: This study highlights the high rates of comorbidity in a largely Chinese sample in an Asian setting and the importance of assessing pathological gamblers for comorbidities.

Gambling has been defined as a wager of any type of item or possession of value upon a game or event of uncertain outcome in which chance, of a variable degree, determines the outcome. The failure to resist the impulse to gamble despite disruption to personal, family and vocational life characterises pathological gambling.

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