At-risk and problem gambling among Finnish youth: The examination of risky alcohol consumption, tobacco smoking, mental health and loneliness as gender-specific correlates

AIMS – The aims were to compare past-year at-risk and problem gambling (ARPG) and other at-risk behaviours (computer gaming, risky alcohol consumption, tobacco smoking) by age and gender, and to explore how ARPG is associated with risky alcohol consumption, tobacco smoking, poor mental health and loneliness in males and females. DESIGN – Data from respondents aged 15-28 (n = 822) were derived from a cross-sectional random sample of population-based data (n = 4484). The data were collected in 2011-2012 by telephone interviews. The Problem Gambling Severity Index (PGSI, score≥2) was used to evaluate ARPG. Prevalence rates for risk behaviours were compared for within gender-specific age groups. Regression models were gender-specific. RESULTS – The proportion of at-risk and problem gamblers was higher among males than females in all age groups except among 18-21-year-olds, while frequent computer gaming was higher among males in all age groups. The odds ratio (95% CI) of being a male ARPGer was 2.57 (1.40-4.74) for risky alcohol consumption; 1.95 (1.07-3.56) for tobacco smoking; 2.63 (0.96-7.26) for poor mental health; and 4.41 (1.20-16.23) for feeling lonely. Likewise, the odds ratio (95% CI) of being a female ARPGer was 1.19 (0.45-3.12) for risky alcohol consumption; 4.01 (1.43-11.24) for tobacco smoking; 0.99 (0.18-5.39) for poor mental health; and 6.46 (1.42-29.34) for feeling lonely. All 95% CIs of ARPG correlates overlapped among males and females. CONCLUSIONS – Overall, past-year at-risk and problem gambling and computer gaming seem to be more common among males than females; however, for risky alcohol consumption similar gender differences were evident only for the older half of the sample. No clear gender differences were seen in correlates associated with ARPG.

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