Psychosocial characteristics of adolescent problem gambling

by Ramsay Wright Dixon

Institution: Monash University
Department: School of Psychological Sciences
Year: 2015
Keywords: Problem gambling; Psychosocial characteristics; Adolescence; Risk factors; Protective factors
Record ID: 1052458
Full text PDF: http://arrow.monash.edu.au/hdl/1959.1/1156801


Problem gambling among adolescents has emerged as a significant area of research interest. Youth gambling problems are associated with a range of interpersonal, familial, economic, psychological and legal problems. However, because not all adolescents who gamble will develop gambling problems, the research literature has begun to emphasise potential factors that may increase or ameliorate the risk of developing such difficulties. Those characteristics associated with higher levels of severity, earlier onset and longer duration of symptoms are described as risk factors, while those which serve to reduce the severity of problems or lessen the influence of risk factors are referred to as protective factors. Although a stronger focus on these characteristics has emerged, there is still much to be learned about factors that may be associated with adolescent problem gambling behaviour. In particular, given their potential as targets for intervention, potentially malleable psychosocial factors represent an important area of research. Presented as a thesis by publication, the first chapter of this thesis provides a narrative review of problem gambling among adolescents. The use of a biopsychosocial model as a framework within which to identify and organise relevant variables is presented, and this framework is used throughout the thesis. The second chapter provides a rationale and aims for the current thesis. Chapter 3 consists of a systematic review of the extant literature in relation to the psychosocial characteristics associated with problem gambling in high school students, while Chapter 4 contains an original empirical study of the psychosocial characteristics of problem gambling among a sample of high school students. The study in Chapter 5 further explores the relationships between attitudes to gambling, gambling involvement, coping strategies, parenting styles, and gambling problems in this sample. Finally, Chapter 6 provides a general discussion of the key findings contained within this thesis, and makes comment on their broader clinical and research implications. For the study presented in Chapter 3, a comprehensive search of the extant literature in relation to the psychosocial characteristics associated with adolescent problem gambling in high school students was performed. Strict inclusion criteria were applied, resulting in 19 studies being examined. Reflecting the diversity of the field, from these 19 studies, 46 individual psychosocial characteristics were identified. For the purposes of drawing conclusions, only the 11 characteristics for which a minimum of two studies existed were described further. Grouped using a biopsychosocial model, the review presented in Chapter 3 found evidence for a number of characteristics across various domains. Specifically, associations were found between problem gambling and: impulsivity and general risk propensity (temperament/personality domain); ineffective coping (cognitive domain); family problems (family environment domain), symptoms of ADHD, substance use, and…