Psychological Distress as an Indicator of Co-Occurring Psychopathology among Treatment-Seeking Disordered Gamblers


Disordered gamblers frequently present with concurrent anxiety, depressive, personality, and substance use disorders, which may complicate treatment. Although there is a need for a thorough assessment, some questionnaires may prove lengthy for clients and clinicians. Thus, there is a need for brief screens for identifying co-occurring psychopathology. The present study sought to examine whether a brief, self-report measure of psychological distress could indicate the presence of co-occurring psychopathology among an outpatient sample of disordered gamblers. At intake, 69 participants completed self-report measures of distress and gambling symptomatology, a personality inventory, and a structured interview for the diagnostic criteria for disordered gambling. Gamblers with greater elevations of psychological distress evidenced greater severity of gambling pathology. Clinically significant elevations were present for symptoms of depression, deviancy, and anxiety, but not substance abuse. Greater scores of psychological distress significantly predicted elevations of depression, deviancy, and anxiety. Sensitivity and specificity were evaluated and the findings supported that an average psychological distress score of 16 corresponded with the presence of co-occurring psychopathology. Clinicians treating disordered gamblers should consider screening for co-occurring psychopathology with brief, self-report measures of psychological distress.

Publication Title

Journal of Gambling Studies