Impulsivity and problem gambling: can the anticipated emotional rewards explain the relationship? (subscription access article)

Flack, M. & Buckby, B. (2018). International Journal of Mental Health and Addiction. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11469-018-9950-4

Gambling behaviors tend to increase in prevalence from late adolescence to young adulthood, and the underlying genetic and environmental influences during this period remain largely understudied. We examined the genetic and environmental influences on gambling behaviors contributing to stability and change from ages 18 to 25 in a longitudinal, behavioral genetic mixed-sex twin study design. Participants were enrolled in the Minnesota Twin Family Study. A range of gambling behaviors (maximum frequency, average frequency, money lost, and gambling problems) were assessed at ages 18 and 25. The results of our study support the following conclusions: (a) the genetic and environmental factors impacting a range of gambling behaviors are largely similar in men and women, (b) genetic factors increase in influence from 18 to 25 (21% at age 18 to 57% at age 25), (c) shared environmental factors are influential at age 18, but tend to decrease from ages 18 to 25 (55% at age 18 to 10% at age 25), and (d) nonshared environmental influences are similarly significant and are small to moderate in magnitude at both ages. The findings add to a small yet important research area regarding determinants of youth gambling behaviors and have the potential to inform prevention and intervention efforts. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2017 APA, all rights reserved). Article details and references

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Motivation-Matched Approach to the Treatment of Problem Gambling: A Case Series Pilot Study (open access)

Stewart, M. J., Davis MacNevin, P. L., Hodgins, D. C., Barrett, S. P., Swansburg, J., & Stewart, S. H.
The aim of the present case series was to provide a preliminary assessment of the utility of a motivation-matched treatment for problem gamblers. On the basis of their primary underlying motivations for gambling, 6 problem gamblers received either action-motivated (n = 4) or escape-motivated (n = 2) treatment. Drawing upon a cognitive-behavioural framework, this 6-session motivation-matched treatment was designed to address gamblers’ maladaptive motivations for gambling (i.e., the need or desire for “escape” or “action”), as well as the effects of conditioning and maladaptive thinking patterns unique to each gambling motive subtype. Assessments were conducted at pre-treatment, post-treatment, and 3- and 6-month follow-up. Primary outcome measures included gambling behaviour (i.e., gambling frequency, time, and money spent gambling), severity of gambling problems, and gambling-related impairment or disability; secondary outcome measures included gambling-related craving, gambling abstinence self-efficacy, positively and negatively reinforcing gambling situations, and gambling outcome expectancies. Overall, participants showed pre- to post-treatment improvements on the majority of these measures, with relatively less immediate post-treatment treatment gains observed on measures that assessed positively and negatively reinforcing gambling situations and gambling-related impairment or disability. However, treatment gains at the 3- and 6-month follow-up were shown for most participants on these latter measures as well. Findings suggest promise for this novel treatment approach. The next step in this line of research is to conduct a randomized, controlled trial to compare the efficacy of this motivation-matched treatment for disordered gambling with treatment as usual.