Online Program

Population prevalence of problem gambling in Massachusetts: Results of a comprehensive baseline survey and implications for state mental & behavioral health systems

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Rachel Volberg, PhD, School of Public Health and Health Sciences, University of Massachusetts, Amherst, Amherst, MA
Martha Zorn, MS, School of Public Health and Health Sciences, University of Massachusetts Amherst, Amherst, MA
Amanda Houpt, MPH, School of Public Health and Health Sciences, University of Massachusetts Amherst, Amherst, MA
Background. Problem gambling has struggled to find its home in the world of mental and behavioral health. Originally included in the DSM-III in the “Impulse Control Disorders not Elsewhere Classified,” section, the disorder was moved to the “Substance-Related and Addictive Disorders” section in the DSM-5. While this helped normalize the issue, recognition of problem gambling as a public health issue is not widespread. A national prevalence survey (1999) estimated that 1.7% of the US population has a gambling problem. Prior research identified substance use disorders, mood disorders, and anxiety disorders as the co-occurring conditions most common among individuals with gambling problems.  Despite these adverse outcomes, little is known about gambling-related mental health disorders and co-occurring conditions.  A large baseline population survey (n=9,578) was conducted in MA (2014) to  assess gambling participation, problem gambling status, awareness of prevention programs, and use of mental health services to treat gambling disorders.

Methods. The survey employed an address-based sampling strategy and multi-mode interviews.  Descriptive statistics were run using SAS-callable SUDAAN.

Results. We calculated a problem gambling prevalence rate of 1.8% (CI 1.4%-2.2%). Co-occurring mood and substance use disorders of respondents with gambling problems included depression (30.7%, CI 21.3%-42.0%), tobacco use (31.7%, CI 22.5%-42.6%), illegal drug use (23.6%, CI 14.8%-35.4%) and binge drinking (53.6%, CI 42.3%-64.6%). We will also present characteristics of low-, moderate-, and high-risk gamblers; awareness of problem gambling prevention programs; and use of treatment services.

Conclusions. Results will be used to make recommendations to improve problem gambling service provision in Massachusetts.

Learning Areas:

Other professions or practice related to public health
Public health or related research
Social and behavioral sciences

Learning Objectives:
Identify problem gambling as a public health issue. Describe the prevalence of problem gambling in Massachusetts and mental health disorders (e.g., depression, anxiety, mood disorders) common among problem gamblers. Identify gaps between population prevalence of problem gambling and awareness of prevention program and treatment services for problem gamblers.

Keyword(s): Mental Health, Mental Health Treatment &Care

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I have been the principal or co-principal investigator of multiple studies focused on gambling, problem gambling, and associated risk factors. Among my scientific interests has been improving understanding of risk factors related to problem gambling and transitions into and out of problem gambling status.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.