Is gambling disorder associated with impulsivity traits measured by the UPPS-P and is this association moderated by sex and age?

Compr Psychiatry. 2017 Jan;72:106-113. doi: 10.1016/j.comppsych.2016.10.005. Epub 2016 Oct 11.


Objectives: Impulsivity is a construct that is strongly associated with Gambling Disorder (GD). The main objectives in the present study are: 1) to explore the role of sex and age on impulsivity levels in GD patients; 2) to identify the relationship of the different impulsivity facets with comorbid psychopathology and other personality traits in GD patients; and (3) to assess whether impulsivity is a predictor for the severity of GD.

Method: The final sample consisted of 406 consecutive participants. All of them were seeking treatment for GD (88.4% male and 11.6% female) and completed the South Oaks Gambling Screen (SOGS), the UPPS-P Impulsive Behavior Scale, the Symptom Checklist (SCL-90-R), the Temperament and Character Inventory-R (TCI-R) as well as other clinical and psychopathological measures.

Results: Results show a negative linear trend between age and lower sensation seeking levels as well as lack of premeditation (the higher the age the lower the UPPS-P scores), and a positive linear trend between age and positive urgency (UR) (the higher the age the higher the UPPS-P score). However, no sex differences were found for the assessed impulsivity dimensions. Lack of perseverance was positively associated with obsessive-compulsive symptoms and harm avoidance trait, and negatively related to persistence and self-directedness traits. Positive UR and negative UR were positively correlated with general psychopathology and the total number of DSM-IV criteria, and negatively associated to the following personality traits: self-directedness and cooperativeness. Finally, only the sensation seeking and negative UR of the UPPS-P showed predictive capacity on the severity of the disorder (the higher the impulsivity scores the higher the illness severity).

Conclusions: These findings highlight the association between impulsivity traits (measured by the UPPS-P) and GD in a large and consecutively recruited clinical sample with GD, taking into account the variables sex and age.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aging / psychology*
  • Character
  • Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders*
  • Female
  • Gambling / diagnosis
  • Gambling / psychology*
  • Harm Reduction
  • Humans
  • Impulsive Behavior*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Sex Characteristics*
  • Temperament