Episodic and Binge Gambling: An Exploration and Preliminary Quantitative Study (open access)

By S. Cowlishaw, E. Nespoli, J.K. Jebadurai, N. Smith, and H. Bowden-Jones.

The DSM-5 includes provisions for episodic forms of gambling disorder, with such changes aligned with earlier accounts of potential binge gambling behaviours. However, there is little research that indicates the utility of these classifications of episodic or binge gambling, and this study considered their characteristics in a clinical sample. It involved administration of a new binge gambling screening tool, along with routine measures, to n = 214 patients entering a specialist treatment clinic for gambling problems. Results indicated that episodic gambling was common in this clinical context, with 28 and 32% of patients reporting gambling episodes that were (a) regular and alternating, and (b) irregular and intermittent, respectively. These patterns were distinguished by factors including associations with covariates that indicated differences from continuous gamblers. For example, the irregular episodic gamblers, but not the regular pattern, demonstrated lower levels of problem gambling severity and comorbidity. Rates of potential binge gambling, which was defined in terms of additional criteria, were around 4% and numbers were insufficient for comparable analyses. The findings support inclusion of episodic forms of gambling disorder in the DSM-5, but highlight the need for improved recognition and research on heterogeneous forms of episodic gambling.

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Assessing Problem Gambling: a Review of Classic and Specialized Measures (full text)

By Kyle Caler, Jose Ricardo Vargas Garcia, Lia Nower

Purpose of Review – The rapid expansion of legalized gambling opportunities over the past 20 years has generated interest in problem gambling and gambling disorder. This review will provide an overview of classic and newer instruments in the field.Recent FindingsEarly instruments in the field of gambling studies were focused exclusively on population prevalence or diagnosis of disorder. However, a growing body of research, particularly in the clinical and neurobiological areas, have led to the development of a targeted measurement instruments and increased specialization designed for screening of a gambling disorder. Newer instruments and those that with renewed clinical and research interest are focused on specific areas such as cognitive distortions, and control of urges and cravings, which are key components of sustained recovery.SummaryMeasurement in the field of problem gambling is moving away from solely measuring population prevalence and psychiatric disorder toward targeting the specific mechanisms that underlie problem gambling and barriers to recovery. Future advances in measurement will necessitate using standardized measures to assess various facets of problem gambling and adopting a holistic approach to assessing facets synergistically to identify sub-groups and inform targeted treatment strategies.

Caler, K., Garcia, J. R. V., & Nower, L. (2016). Assessing Problem Gambling: a Review of Classic and Specialized Measures. Current Addiction Reports, 1–8. https://doi.org/10.1007/s40429-016-0118-7