Comorbidity in Youth Gamblers
Professor Bacon-Shone, John (Principal investigator)
Dr Leung Kwok Heung Grace Mary (Co-Investigator)
gambling, public health, cross-cultural, youth
RGC Direct Allocation Grant (104)
HKU Project Code
Small Project Funding
Gambling may not be harmful if it is a voluntary, pleasurable activity with an informed choice. It includes (a) an awareness of the probability of winning and losing, and (b) sensible wagering without getting into debts. This sort of gambling may sustain or enhance the gambler’s state of well-being. On the other hand, gambling becomes unhealthy when it fits the criteria of various levels of gambling problems (transitional/ problem gambling and compulsive/pathological gambling1). Problem gambling affects detrimentally social, familial, occupational, psychological aspects of living. Gambling addiction is defined in DSM IV as a) repetitive or compulsive engagement in a behavior despite negative consequences; b)diminished control over the problematic behavior; c) experiencing an urge or craving state before the engagement of the problematic behavior; d) repeated unsuccessful attempts to give up; e) there is withdrawal symptom if one is being prevented from the activity; f) Impairment in major areas of life functioning; g) there is hedonic quality during performance and tolerance level is increased. Problem Gamblers suffer from higher rates of lifetime anxiety (16-40% ) disorders and Personality disorders (Borderline 3%; Narcissistic personality disorder 5% Anti-social personality disorders 17%; Any Personality Disorders 25%) Often Problem gambler treatment needs to address these related health concerns as they may be a cause for relapse or impede treatment progress. This study aims i) to explore comorbidity issues among the adolescent gamblers/problem gamblers across countries (viz., Hong Kong, Macao, Singapore, and the UK) and to make some suggestions/guidelines for prevention of gambling related problems in individuals and groups at risk of gambling addiction ii) to incorporate a mental health promotion approach to the prevention of problem gambling; one that builds community capacity, incorporates a holistic view of mental health (including its emotional and spiritual dimensions) and addresses the needs and aspirations of gamblers, individuals at risk of gambling problems and those affected by them. iii) to promote informed and balanced attitudes, behaviors and policies towards gambling and gamblers both by individuals and by communities to protect vulnerable groups from gambling-related harm.