Gambling and health risk behaviors among U.S. college student-athletes: findings from a national study

J Adolesc Health. 2007 May;40(5):390-7. doi: 10.1016/j.jadohealth.2006.11.146. Epub 2007 Feb 15.


Purpose: To examine prevalence and associations of gambling problems and health risk behaviors among college athletes from the first national survey of gambling among U.S. college student-athletes.

Methods: Conducted by the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), this self-administered and anonymous survey collected information from a nationally representative sample of 20,739 student-athletes.

Results: Males consistently had higher past-year prevalence of gambling than females (e.g., 62.4% of males reported some type of gambling vs. 42.8% of females). Based on DSM-IV Gambling Screen, this study identified 4.3% of males and 0.4% of females as problem/pathological gamblers. A general upward trend existed that as the level of gambling problems increased, so did the prevalence of substance use, gorging/vomiting, and unprotected sex. Cross-group comparisons by gambler type were all significant. Problem and pathological gamblers also experienced significantly more drug/alcohol-related problems than non-gamblers and social gamblers.

Conclusions: Direct associations found between gambling and multiple risk behaviors in college student-athletes support the persistence of the youth problem-behavior syndrome and suggest the need for multi-faceted initiatives to tackle these risk behaviors simultaneously.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Age Distribution
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders
  • Disruptive, Impulse Control, and Conduct Disorders / diagnosis
  • Disruptive, Impulse Control, and Conduct Disorders / epidemiology*
  • Female
  • Gambling / psychology*
  • Health Promotion / organization & administration
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Prevalence
  • Probability
  • Risk Assessment
  • Risk-Taking*
  • Sex Distribution
  • Sports*
  • Student Health Services / organization & administration*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • United States / epidemiology
  • Universities