This study systematically reviews research on child maltreatment and risk of gambling problems in adulthood. It also reviews adult problem gamblers’ risk of abusing or neglecting their own children. Multiple database searches were conducted using pre-defined search terms related to gambling and child abuse and neglect. We identified 601 unique references and excluded studies if they did not report original research, or did not specifically measure child maltreatment or gambling. Twelve studies that included multivariable analysis of childhood maltreatment exposure and problem gambling were identified. Six of seven studies examining childhood sexual abuse and four of five examining physical abuse showed a significant positive association between abuse and later gambling problems (odds ratios for sexual abuse 2.01–3.65; physical abuse 2.3–2.8). Both studies examining psychological maltreatment and two of three examining neglect identified positive associations with problem gambling. In most studies, risks were reduced or eliminated when controlling for other mental health disorders. The three studies measuring risk of child abuse and neglect among current problem gamblers suggest an increased risk for child physical abuse and medical conditions indicative of neglect although there is a considerable amount of variation among studies. Child abuse is associated with increased risk of gambling problems – gambling treatment providers should ask about maltreatment history as part of their clinical assessment. Problem gamblers may be more likely to physically abuse or neglect their children, but data here are more limited. Child welfare professionals should consider asking questions about parental gambling when assessing family risk.
Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a frequent mental disorder with childhood onset and high persistence into adulthood. There is much evidence that ADHD increases the risk for the development of other psychiatric disorders and functional problems in several domains of everyday life. In this study, the association of ADHD with gambling disorder (GD) was investigated. 163 adult subjects suffering from GD were examined for childhood and current ADHD according to DSM-5 as well as co-morbid psychiatric disorders. Moreover, characteristics of gambling behavior have been evaluated. The prevalence of lifetime ADHD was 28.8 %, with 25.2 % of the study population presenting ADHD as a full syndrome according to DSM-5. The prevalence of co-morbid substance use disorders and adjustment disorders and cluster B personality disorders was higher in GD patients with current ADHD than in the group without. Also, an increased rate of suicide attempts was detected in gamblers with ADHD. In contrast with gamblers without ADHD, those with ADHD were reported to spend more time with gambling, a sedative effect of gambling and a faster development of GD. The high prevalence of ADHD in patients with GD indicates that childhood ADHD is a risk factor for the development of GD in later life. Moreover, treatment of patients with GD and ADHD is complicated by a high rate of co-morbid disorders. Regarding therapeutic approaches, it should be considered that functional aspects of gambling differ in GD patients with and without ADHD.
Gambling self-reports may be subject to several types of bias, including social desirability bias, which may undermine their utility for capturing gambling behaviour in both research and clinical practice. Retrospective self-reports of gambling are frequently used to assess patterns of behaviour over specific periods of time, but may not be as reliable as experience sampling (ES) methods, which involve multiple assessments of gambling over the course of several days. The purpose of the current study was to examine the impact of two aspects of social desirability, impression management (IM) and self-deceptive enhancement (SDE), on the correspondence between reports of gambling assessed via ES and retrospective recall using the Gambling Timeline Followback (G-TLFB; Weinstock et al. Psychological Assessment, 16, 72–80, 2004). Participants were 81 emerging adult gamblers who completed a 30-day ES study and a retrospective assessment of their gambling. Although the overall association between social desirability and gambling reports was minimal, the correspondence between retrospective and ES reports was lower for those with higher scores on IM (for money won-lost) and SDE (for money intended to risk). Gamblers who wish to present themselves in a favourable way – either intentionally (IM) or unintentionally (SDE) – may be less reliable in their reports of gambling when asked to reflect on an extended period of time compared to when asked to provide an in-the-moment account of their gambling behaviour. These findings have important implications for understanding the circumstances under which individuals bias their retrospective self-reports of gambling and highlight the utility of more fine-grained assessments of gambling behaviour.