Age Differences in Overall Functioning, Gambling-Related Symptoms, and Comorbid Conditions Among Gamblers

Ryan Nicholson, Corey S. Mackenzie, Tracie O. Afifi, Matthew Keough and Jitender Sareen


Objectives: Previous research has examined the role of age in health and functioning among gamblers. This study aims to provide greater understanding of this relationship by comparing younger, middle-aged, and older gamblers with respect to their mental and physical functioning, comorbid psychological disor¬ders, and other gambling-related features.
Method: This study utilized data from the National Epidemiological Sur¬vey for Alcohol and Related Conditions (NESARC) with adults meeting one or more DSM-5 disordered gambling symptoms categorized into three age groups: 18 to 34 years old (N = 436), 35 to 54 years old (N = 453), and 55 to 98 years old (N = 321).
Results: Older adults were less likely to qualify for a DSM-5 disordered gambling diagnosis, had lower physical functioning, less help-seeking behavior, lower prevalence of comorbid psychiatric conditions, and were more likely to play a single game (versus multiple games) within a casino (versus outside of a casino) compared to other age groups. The three age groups also differed in terms of the DSM-5 gambling criteria endorsed. Age also moderated the influence of one indicator of quality of life and gambling severity: lower social functioning was associated with increased gambling severity to a greater extent in younger and middle-aged adults than in older adults.
Conclusion: Our findings suggest that older adults meeting at least one dis¬ordered gambling criterion experience less severe gambling symptomatology and better mental health, but poorer physical functioning that may be a product of ag¬ing. We propose that lower gambling prevalence and better mental health in older adult gamblers is consistent with socioemotional theories of successful aging.

Published on: October 22, 2021
doi: 10.17756/jas.2021-051
Citation: Nicholson R, Mackenzie CS, Afifi TO, Keough M, Sareen J. 2021. Age Differences in Overall Functioning, Gambling-Related Symptoms, and Comorbid Conditions Among Gamblers. J Addict Sci 7(1): 6-17.