Objective: The purpose of this study is to assess the prevalence of recreational and disordered gambling, and to identify its association with health functioning, in urban primary care patients.
Materials and methods: Data were collected from 574 adults presenting to an urban primary care medical clinic. Participants completed the South Oaks Gambling Screen, Short Form-12 Health Survey, Second Edition and questions assessing demographic characteristics and frequency and intensity of current gambling behaviors.
Results: Overall, 10.6% of participants met lifetime criteria for pathological gambling, and an additional 5.1% were classified as problem gamblers. Pathological gamblers and problem gamblers reported more health-related concerns than recreational gamblers and nongamblers on indices of physical and emotional functioning. Contrary to prior research, recreational gambling was not associated with better health.
Conclusion: These data suggest that disordered gambling is relatively common in primary care settings, and gambling severity is associated with decreased health functioning.