Age, Gender, History Influence Onset of Pathologic Gambling

Article excerpt

NEW ORLEANS - Pathologic gambling occurs in men and women of all ages. But age and gender appear to influence its course and phenomenology, Dr. Jon E. Grant said in a poster presentation at the annual meeting of the American Psychiatric Association,

Gambling behavior appears to progress from benign to pathologic forms more quickly in older individuals and is triggered by different stimuli in men than women, noted Dr. Grant of the University of Minnesota, Minneapolis.

Dr. Grant reported data on a sample of 131 patients- including 78 women-participating in two intervention programs for pathologic gamblers. All patients satisfied DSM-IV criteria for the disorder and had no other Axis I diagnoses.

The mean age of the group was 47.7 years. Although the mean age of gambling onset was 30.5 years, the mean time from onset of gambling behavior to actual development of the disorder was 6.3 years. In nearly half of patients in the group, however, gambling progressed to pathologic levels within 1 year of onset. Progression was significantly more rapid in patients who were more than 50 years of age at the time they began gambling. This group was more likely than younger individuals to have gambling pathology that had been triggered by sensory stimuli, Dr. Grant said.

Results of Dr. Grant's analysis also found that women and men gambled in response to different triggers. Women were significantly more likely to respond to internal stimuli, such as sadness, loneliness, and boredom. For men, the triggers were external. "Men were more turned on by ads," he said. …