Psychosocial risk factors in disordered gambling: A descriptive systematic overview of vulnerable populations

Addict Behav. 2019 Dec;99:106071. doi: 10.1016/j.addbeh.2019.106071. Epub 2019 Aug 5.


Background: Gambling is a behaviour engaged in by millions of people worldwide; for some, gambling can become a severely maladaptive behaviour, and previous research has identified a wide range of psychosocial risk factors that can be considered important for the development and maintenance of disordered gambling. Although risk factors have been identified, the homogeneity of risk factors across specific groups thought to be vulnerable to disordered gambling is to date, unexplored.

Methods: To address this, the current review sought to conduct a systematic overview of literature relating to seven vulnerable groups: young people and adolescents, older adults, women, veterans, indigenous peoples, prisoners, and low socio-economic/income groups.

Results: Multiple risk factors associated with disordered gambling were identified; some appeared consistently across most groups, including being male, co-morbid mental and physical health conditions, substance use disorders, accessibility and availability of gambling, form and mode of gambling, and experience of trauma. Further risk factors were identified that were specific to each vulnerable group.

Conclusion: Within the general population, certain groups are more vulnerable to disordered gambling. Although some risk factors are consistent across groups, some risk factors appear to be group specific. It is clear that there is no homogenous pathway in to disordered gambling, and that social, developmental, environmental and demographic characteristics can all interact to influence an individual's relationship with gambling.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adverse Childhood Experiences
  • Age Factors
  • Aged
  • Employment
  • Gambling / epidemiology
  • Gambling / psychology*
  • Humans
  • Indigenous Peoples / psychology*
  • Indigenous Peoples / statistics & numerical data
  • Mental Disorders / epidemiology
  • Mental Disorders / psychology
  • Poverty / psychology*
  • Poverty / statistics & numerical data
  • Prisoners / psychology*
  • Prisoners / statistics & numerical data
  • Risk Factors
  • Social Support
  • Veterans / psychology*
  • Veterans / statistics & numerical data
  • Vulnerable Populations
  • Women / psychology*