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Pathological Gambling Does Not Appear Progressive

Psychiatry Res; ePub 2017 Jun 13; Black, et al

Both younger and older persons with pathological gambling (PG) moved toward a reduced level of gambling activity during follow-up in a recent longitudinal study of gambling behavior. The data challenges the notion that PG is chronic and progressive. Researchers evaluated 175 subjects: a case group of 53 older adults with PG (≥60 years), and 2 comparison groups including 72 younger adults with PG (<40 years) and 50 older adults without PG (≥60 years). Subjects were evaluated at intake and reassessed every 6 months and drop outs were replaced. They found:

  • At intake, older adults with PG were more likely to be female, Caucasian, divorced, and to have a lower level of education.
  • Older and younger adults with PG were similar in gambling severity, but the older cohort was more likely to have sought PG treatment.
  • Older adults with PG had lower rates of lifetime drug use disorders, attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder, and obsessive-compulsive disorder.
  • Older adults with PG preferred slots, were more likely to receive PG treatment, and were less likely to discontinue participation in the study.


Black DW, Coryell W, McCormick B, Shaw M, Allen J. A prospective follow-up study of younger and older subjects with pathological gambling. [Published online ahead of print June 13, 2017]. Psychiatry Res. doi:10.1016/j.psychres.2017.06.043.