Demographic and psychiatric correlates of compulsive sexual behaviors in gambling disorder

J Behav Addict. 2019 Sep 1;8(3):451-462. doi: 10.1556/2006.8.2019.35. Epub 2019 Aug 16.


Background and aims: Gambling disorder (GD) and compulsive sexual behavior (CSB) may commonly co-occur. Yet, the psychiatric correlates of these co-occurring disorders are an untapped area of empirical scrutiny, limiting our understanding of appropriate treatment modalities for this dual-diagnosed population. This study examined the demographic and clinical correlates of CSB in a sample of treatment-seeking individuals with GD (N = 368) in São Paulo, Brazil.

Methods: Psychiatrists and psychologists conducted semi-structured clinical interviews to identify rates of CSB and other comorbid psychiatric disorders. The Shorter PROMIS Questionnaire was administered to assess additional addictive behaviors. The TCI and BIS-11 were used to assess facets of personality. Demographic and gambling variables were also assessed.

Results: Of the total sample, 24 (6.5%) met diagnostic criteria for comorbid CSB (GD + CSB). Compared to those without compulsive sexual behaviors (GD - CSB), individuals with GD + CSB were more likely to be younger and male. No differences in gambling involvement emerged. Individuals with GD + CSB tended to have higher rates of psychiatric disorders (depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, and bulimia nervosa) and engage in more addictive behaviors (problematic alcohol use, drug use, and exercise) compared to GD - CSB. Those with GD + CSB evidenced less self-directedness, cooperativeness, self-transcendence, and greater motor impulsivity. Logistic regression showed that the predictors of GD + CSB, which remained in the final model, were being male, a diagnosis of bulimia, greater gambling severity, and less self-transcendence.

Discussion and conclusion: Given those with GD + CSB evidence greater psychopathology, greater attention should be allocated to this often under studied comorbid condition to ensure adequate treatment opportunities.

Keywords: clinical correlates; comorbidity; compulsive sexual behaviors; gambling disorder.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Behavior, Addictive / epidemiology
  • Behavior, Addictive / physiopathology*
  • Brazil / epidemiology
  • Bulimia / epidemiology
  • Bulimia / physiopathology
  • Comorbidity
  • Compulsive Behavior / epidemiology
  • Compulsive Behavior / physiopathology*
  • Female
  • Gambling / physiopathology*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mental Disorders / epidemiology
  • Mental Disorders / physiopathology*
  • Middle Aged
  • Sexual Behavior / physiology*

Grant support

Funding sources: No financial support was received for this study.