Abstract: Psychosocial Correlates of Adolescent Gambling Behavior (Society for Social Work and Research 14th Annual Conference: Social Work Research: A WORLD OF POSSIBILITIES)

13115 Psychosocial Correlates of Adolescent Gambling Behavior

Saturday, January 16, 2010: 10:30 AM
Seacliff D (Hyatt Regency)
* noted as presenting author
Anthony J. Hill, PhD , The Catholic University of America, Visiting Assistant Professor, Washington, DC
With the proliferation of legalized gambling venues and exposure to advertisements for gambling, adolescents are gambling in record numbers (Vitaro, et al., 2004). Many become problem/pathological gamblers at rates higher than those of adults (Winters, et al., 2002). Moreover, gambling during adolescents is a significant risk factor for problem/pathological gambling during adulthood. A major barrier to treating problem/pathological gambling is the lack of early detection. The presence of problem gambling and its adverse effects typically remain undetected until youth display overt antisocial behaviors or deteriorating academic performance, prematurely dropping out of school, or otherwise attracting the scrutiny of parents or school officials because of their behavior or disturbed mood states. (Nower & Blaszczynski, 2004). Thus, a comprehensive understanding of adolescents who gamble is necessary to develop effective interventions to prevent the development of problem/pathological gambling.

The purposes of this study were to: (a) identify theoretical constructs that correlate with adolescent gambling behavior, and (b) test models for predicting adolescent gambling behavior using Problem Behavior Theory as a conceptual framework. The study postulates that psychosocial variables found in three theoretical domains, the personality system, the perceived environment system, and the behavior system, correlate with adolescent gambling behavior. Moreover, adolescent gambling behavior occurs across the three theoretical constructs.

Data for this research comes from the Gambling Impact and Behavior Study, 1997-1999: [United States] Part 2 Youth Survey with a national sample of 534 adolescents. Chi-square tests for association examined the strength of the relationships between, school participation, religiosity, family/peer support, role model for gambling behavior, alcohol use, substance use, and criminal activity with gambling behavior. Logistic regression models were used to identify predictors of adolescent gambling behavior.

The findings revealed that gender, religiosity, role model for gambling behavior, alcohol use, substance use, and criminal activity are significant correlates of adolescent gambling behavior. The logistic regression models demonstrated that gender, role model for gambling behavior, and alcohol use were significant predictors of adolescent gambling behavior.

This research offers a first step in building knowledge and practice wisdom for understanding the continuum of gambling behaviors. Knowledge and understanding characteristics of adolescents who engage in gambling behaviors provides a foundation for greater exploration of psychosocial factors that are most associated with adolescent gambling behavior. This research contributes to social work practice by identifying psychosocial factors that significantly correlate and predict adolescent gambling behavior; thereby, increasing understanding of adolescent gambling behavior. Practice protocols can be developed to ask about gambling behaviors or to screen for gambling problems, if a client presents for treatment and displays any of the characteristics identified with gambling behavior in this research. This research also has implications for social work education. Given the increase of gambling opportunities, the impact of gambling and its influence on public health, and the increase of gambling among adolescents, gambling should be incorporated in social work curriculum, like other addictive behaviors.