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Review
, 49 (6), 519-39

Prevalence of Psychiatric Co-Morbidity in Treatment-Seeking Problem Gamblers: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis

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Review

Prevalence of Psychiatric Co-Morbidity in Treatment-Seeking Problem Gamblers: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis

Nicki A Dowling et al. Aust N Z J Psychiatry.

Abstract

Objective: The aim of this paper was to systematically review and meta-analyse the prevalence of co-morbid psychiatric disorders (DSM-IV Axis I disorders) among treatment-seeking problem gamblers.

Methods: A systematic search was conducted for peer-reviewed studies that provided prevalence estimates of Axis I psychiatric disorders in individuals seeking psychological or pharmacological treatment for problem gambling (including pathological gambling). Meta-analytic techniques were performed to estimate the weighted mean effect size and heterogeneity across studies.

Results: Results from 36 studies identified high rates of co-morbid current (74.8%, 95% CI 36.5-93.9) and lifetime (75.5%, 95% CI 46.5-91.8) Axis I disorders. There were high rates of current mood disorders (23.1%, 95% CI 14.9-34.0), alcohol use disorders (21.2%, 95% CI 15.6-28.1), anxiety disorders (17.6%, 95% CI 10.8-27.3) and substance (non-alcohol) use disorders (7.0%, 95% CI 1.7-24.9). Specifically, the highest mean prevalence of current psychiatric disorders was for nicotine dependence (56.4%, 95% CI 35.7-75.2) and major depressive disorder (29.9%, 95% CI 20.5-41.3), with smaller estimates for alcohol abuse (18.2%, 95% CI 13.4-24.2), alcohol dependence (15.2%, 95% CI 10.2-22.0), social phobia (14.9%, 95% CI 2.0-59.8), generalised anxiety disorder (14.4%, 95% CI 3.9-40.8), panic disorder (13.7%, 95% CI 6.7-26.0), post-traumatic stress disorder (12.3%, 95% CI 3.4-35.7), cannabis use disorder (11.5%, 95% CI 4.8-25.0), attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (9.3%, 95% CI 4.1-19.6), adjustment disorder (9.2%, 95% CI 4.8-17.2), bipolar disorder (8.8%, 95% CI 4.4-17.1) and obsessive-compulsive disorder (8.2%, 95% CI 3.4-18.6). There were no consistent patterns according to gambling problem severity, type of treatment facility and study jurisdiction. Although these estimates were robust to the inclusion of studies with non-representative sampling biases, they should be interpreted with caution as they were highly variable across studies.

Conclusions: The findings highlight the need for gambling treatment services to undertake routine screening and assessment of psychiatric co-morbidity and provide treatment approaches that adequately manage these co-morbid disorders. Further research is required to explore the reasons for the variability observed in the prevalence estimates.

Keywords: Gambling; co-morbidity; meta-analysis; psychiatric disorders; systematic review.

Conflict of interest statement

Declaration of interest: The authors report no conflicts of interest. The authors alone are responsible for the content and writing of the paper.

Figures

Figure 1.
Figure 1.
Flow diagram of search results.

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