Gambling Disorders and Longitudinal Studies


Gambling involves placing something of value at risk on an event whose outcome depends on chance and offers the potential to win a prize. It can be found in many forms such as games of chance, lotteries, cards, dice, instant scratch tickets, races, animal tracks, casino gambling and sports betting. Depending on the country, some forms of gambling are legal and others are illegal.

Those who are addicted to gambling lose not just their money but their families, jobs and relationships too. The addiction often causes severe financial problems, and can result in depression or substance abuse. It can even lead to suicide. It is important to seek help if you suspect you have a problem.

Although pathological gambling is not officially included in the diagnostic manual of psychiatric disorders (DSM-5), researchers have developed and tested many effective treatments for it. However, many of these approaches rely on eclectic theoretic conceptualizations of pathological gambling and have only varying degrees of effectiveness.

Longitudinal studies are also necessary to increase our understanding of the etiology and maintenance of gambling disorder, but they present major challenges for several reasons: a need for massive funding; difficulties with maintaining research team continuity over a prolonged time period and with sample attrition; the knowledge that longitudinal data confound aging and/or period effects (e.g., does a person’s interest in gambling increase at the age of majority or because a new casino opened in the area?) and so on.