Mental Health of Non-gamblers Versus “Normal” Gamblers Among American Indian Veterans: A Community Survey

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Abstract

Goal

This analysis was undertaken to assess the demographic and mental health characteristics of “normal” or non-problem gamblers versus non-gamblers in a representative community sample.

Sample

Study participants consisted of 557 North Central American Indian veterans. Data collection included a demographic and trauma questionnaire, a computer-based Diagnostic Interview Schedule for DSM-III-R, and a treatment history algorithm.

Findings

Univariate analyses revealed that gamblers had greater social competence (i.e., higher education, living with a spouse) and higher lifetime psychiatric morbidity. Binary regression analysis revealed that, compared to non-gamblers, gamblers were older, more highly educated, and more apt to be married. More gamblers showed evidence for lifetime risk-taking as evidenced by Antisocial Personality Disorder and Tobacco Dependence.

Conclusions

Social achievement and disposable income function as prerequisites for “normal” gambling in this population, although “externalizing” or “risk-taking” disorders also serve as independent contributors to at least some gambling. The increased rate of “internalizing” or emotional disorders are only indirectly related to gambling, perhaps through increasing age or through the “externalizing” disorders.

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