Clinical Social Work and Gambling Addiction

Thursday, January 15, 2015: 1:30 PM-3:15 PM
Balconies K, Fourth Floor (New Orleans Marriott)
Cluster: Substance Misuse and Addictive Behaviors
Symposium Organizer:
Alyssa Wilson, PhD, Saint Louis University
Current shifts in the DSM-5 now include gambling as a substance use disorder, requiring clinical social workers in mental health and addiction settings to screen and treat disordered gambling. Therefore, the current symposium will provide attendee’s with new research regarding various functional relations within gambling disorders, including prevalence of gambling among immigrants, identification of variables maintaining gambling behaviors, and treatment options.

The first paper examines  gambling prevalence rates among United States immigrants  compared to native-born Americans. Gambling prevalence rates have been shown to vary across demographic variables including age, gender, and education; yet little is known about prevalence rates associated with immigrant status. Data from the National Epidemiologic Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions (NESARC) was analyzed using multinomial regression across multiple immigrant generations (first, second, third) stratified by gender. Gambling severity was assed using the  Pathological Gambling module. Findings revealed that native-born Americans were more likely to engage in gambling but also that each year an immigrant  has lived in the United States is associated with a 31.4% increase in the likelihood of engaging in frequent gambling. When compared to first-generation immigrants, immigrants of subsequent generations and nonimmigrants were roughly 2-2.5 times more likely to report perseverations on gambling, studying the odds, and thinking about previous wins or losses. Implications for assessment and treatment will be discussed.

The second paper will discuss a psychometric tool, the Gambling Functional Assessment (GFA), designed to identify potential variables maintaining gambling behaviors. The GFA measures four common maintaining variables (e.g., access to social attention, escape, access to tangible items, and sensory stimulation). The GFA has been shown to have good internal validity and reliability, however little is known about the construct validity of the GFA with a clinical population. One hundred and seventy five problem and pathological gamblers completed a demographic survey, the South Oaks Gambling Screen, and the GFA. Items on the GFA were then subjected to a principal factor analysis to identify the common variance of the four components. Results suggested that five of the twenty GFA items did not correlate with the four common factors, resulting in the creation of the GFA-II. Implications for using the GFA-II in gambling treatment will be discussed.

Finally, the third paper will discuss a systematic review and meta-analysis of mindfulness-based interventions for problem and pathological gamblers. As mindfulness-based approaches have grown in popularity, and given the high comorbidity of gambling with alcohol and other drug addictions for which mindfullness-based interventions have shown some promise, a systematic review and meta-analysis was conducted to examine the extent to which mindfulness-based interventions were being used to treat gambling disorders and assess the effects on gambling related outcomes. Findings suggest that mindfulness based interventions are a promising approach to treating gambling disorders; however, the research in this area is in its early stages and additional research with rigorous comparison group designs, larger samples, and replication studies are needed. Comparison of results to reviews of other types of gambling interventions and implications for practice and research will be presented.  

* noted as presenting author
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