Relative deprivation and disordered gambling in youths

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Abstract

Background

Previous research has found that area-level income inequality and individual-level relative deprivation both contribute to disordered gambling in adults. However, the socioeconomic factors that contribute to disordered gambling in youths and protective factors in their social environment have not been fully explored. This study examined the association between relative deprivation and youth disordered gambling and the potential moderating role of social support in this association.

Methods

We used data on family material assets and self-reported symptoms of disordered gambling symptoms in 19 321 participants of the 2013/2014 Italian Health Behaviour in School-aged Children study. Relative deprivation was measured using the Yitzhaki index and classmates as a social reference group. Its association with disordered gambling was tested using multilevel negative binomial regression analyses. We also tested moderated effects of relative deprivation on disordered gambling by four sources of social support: families, peers, teachers and classmates.

Results

Relative deprivation related to a fourfold increase in the rate of disordered gambling symptoms (incidence rate ratio=4.18) after differences in absolute family wealth and other variables were statistically controlled. Symptoms were also more prevalent in males, first-generation immigrants and less supported youth. Peer support moderated the association between relative deprivation and symptoms, suggesting that high deprivation and low peer support have interactive links to disordered gambling.

Conclusion

Relative deprivation among classmates relate to youth symptoms of disordered gambling. Youth who live in economically unequal settings and perceive a lack of social support may be at greatest risk.

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