The Reliability and Validity of the Family History Method for Assessing Pathological Gambling and Gambling Involvement


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Abstract

The family history (FH) method, which involves the use of an informant to gather information about one or more family members, has been used in a number of previous gambling studies. However, no evaluation of the reliability and validity has been conducted on the use of the FH method for assessing pathological gambling (PG) and gambling involvement. The current study examined the test-retest and inter-rater reliability and the validity of the FH method for assessing PG and gambling involvement among a large community-based sample of adult twins (N = 4,764) reporting on their parents, co-twins, and spouses. The test-retest and inter-rater reliabilities of the FH reports of PG were high. Validity of the FH reports of PG was low, primarily because of substantial underestimation of pathology (low sensitivity). The test-retest and inter-rater reliabilities of the FH reports of gambling involvement (ever gambled, ever gambled monthly, and ever gambled weekly) were moderate and the sensitivities were quite high. The results of this study support the use of the FH method for studies of PG and gambling involvement. A number of potential explanations for the low sensitivity of FH reports of PG are elaborated.

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