Post Traumatic Stress and Gambling Motives [Full text]

Joshua B. Grubbs1, Heather Chapman2, Lauren Milner3, Ian A. Gutierrez2,4, and David F. Bradley2, 5

1Bowling Green State University, 2Louis Stokes Cleveland VA Medical Center, 3Meridian Behavioral Health Services, 4University of Connecticut, 5Case Western Reserve University

Abstract: Problem gambling and gambling disorder are associated with a range of mental health concerns that extend beyond gambling behaviors alone. Prior works have consistently linked gambling disorder with symptoms of post-traumatic stress and post-traumatic stress disorder, both crosssectionally and over time. However, very little work has examined the specific relationships between these two disorders. The present work postulated that post-traumatic stress is likely associated with unique beliefs about gambling behaviors and unique motivations to gamble. Using two samples—an inpatient sample of U.S. Armed Forces veterans (N = 332) seeking treatment for gambling related problems and a web-sample of gambling adults (N = 881)—we examined these ideas. Results from both samples indicated that post-traumatic stress symptoms were related to positive gambling expectancies and coping motivations for gambling. Additionally, in both samples, positive gambling expectancies were associated with greater coping motivations for gambling. Structural equation models revealed that positive gambling expectancies were consistent predictors of coping motivations for gambling. The findings indicate that post-traumatic stress symptoms are likely associated with unique beliefs about and motivations for gambling behaviors. Given the high comorbidity between symptoms of posttraumatic stress and gambling disorder, these specific relationships are likely of clinical interest in populations seeking treatment for either post-traumatic stress or for problems with gambling behaviors.

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