Individuals with gambling disorder (GD) often suffer from psychiatric comorbidities. Previous studies demonstrated greater severity of GD among gamblers with psychiatric comorbidities. However, evidence on the association between psychiatric comorbidity and course of GD severity during and after outpatient treatment is sparse. This study analyses data from a longitudinal one-armed cohort study on outpatient addiction care clients over three years.
We investigated the course of GD severity using data from 123 clients in 28 outpatient addiction care facilities in Bavaria using generalized estimation equations (GEE). We applied time* interaction analyses to examine different development profiles in participants with and without (1) affective disorders, or (2) anxiety disorders, and (3) to account for the co-occurrence of both.
All participants benefitted from outpatient gambling treatment. Improvement in GD severity was poorer in participants with anxiety disorders compared to participants without anxiety disorders. The co-occurrence of affective and anxiety disorders was linked to a less favourable course of GD than the presence of affective disorders alone. However, the combined occurrence of both disorders was more favourable than the presence of anxiety disorders alone.
Discussion and conclusions
Our study suggests that clients with GD, with and without psychiatric comorbidities, benefit from outpatient gambling care. Psychiatric comorbidity, especially comorbid anxiety disorders, seems to be negatively associated with the course of GD within outpatient gambling care. Addressing psychiatric comorbidity within the treatment of GD and offering individualised help are required to meet the needs of this clientele.
A wide range of studies indicates that men and women with Problem (PrG) and Pathological Gambling (PG) differ in several clinical and sociodemographic characteristics. However, evidence for sex differences, such as the telescoping effect, is contradictory, and it is still unclear whether sex differences observed in offline gambling can also be found for online gambling. Furthermore, reviews have so far focused on binary sex differences but neglect gender aspects. In this study, an updated literature survey of sex- and gender-related differences in PrG and PG was conducted.
We searched PsyInfo, Medline/Pubmed, and the Web of Science databases from 2005 to 2020 for studies investigating sex and gender differences in gambling. A total of 126 papers were included in the literature survey.
We are presenting our findings according to the categories ‘prevalence’ (offline, online, LGBTQI*), ‘sociodemographic factors’, ‘preferred gambling type’, ‘gambling motives’, ‘severity’, ‘progression of gambling problems’, ‘use of professional help/motivation for treatment’, ‘comorbidity’, ‘trauma’, ‘violence and criminality/delinquency’. The studies indicate that, despite some robust sex differences (e.g., concerning prevalence rates), results for most areas were mixed or suggest no sex differences (e.g., violence, gambling motives).
Discussion and conclusion
To date, there is a lack of studies assessing gender, and not only sex, warranting further research in this area.
Evidence on the course of gambling disorder (GD) in clients seeking help from outpatient addiction care facilities is sparse. To close this knowledge gap, this longitudinal one-armed cohort study portrays the development of GD in help-seeking clients over a 3-year timeframe.
We investigated changes in severity of GD as well as in gambling frequency and intensity in 145 gamblers in outpatient treatment in Bavaria using generalized estimation equations (GEEs). To investigate potentially different trajectories between study participants with and without migration background (MB), additional analyses were applied with time*migration interaction. All analyses were adjusted for age, gender, education, electronic gambling machine (EGM) gambling, MB, GD, related help sought before and treatment status.
Within the entire study population, improvements in severity of GD (reduction of 39.2%), gambling intensity (reduction of 75.6%) and gambling frequency (reduction of 77.0%) were observed between baseline and 36 months of follow-up. The declines were most pronounced between baseline and follow-up 1 and stabilized thereafter. Participants with MB improved consistently less than participants without MB.
Discussion and conclusion
Our study suggests that severity of GD and gambling patterns improve in the context of outpatient treatment. The beneficial results furthermore persist for 36 months after treatment termination. As clients with MB seem to profit less than clients without MB, improvements in outpatient gambling services to the specific needs of this clientele are required.