[Prevalence of pathological gambling in the general population around Paris: preliminary study]

L Romo, C Legauffre, C Genolini, C Lucas, A Morvannou, Y Lerfel, J Adès
L'Encéphale 2011, 37 (4): 278-83

INTRODUCTION: Pathological gambling is characterized in the DSM IV-TR as one of the disorders of impulse control. Problem gambling is also part of what is considered as behavioural addictions, the criteria of which have been defined by Goodman, with intrusive thoughts about the game, spending more and more to play, unable to control, reduce or stop gambling despite negative consequences, etc.

AIM OF THE STUDY: There is no epidemiological study in France on the prevalence of pathological gambling. We wanted to study the prevalence of pathological gambling in a sample of 529 persons: 368 gamblers of Pari Mutuel Urbain and La Française des Jeux, and 161 persons in the general population. The study took place between January 2008 and June 2009.

METHODS: As instruments, we used: the South Oaks Gambling Scale (SOGS) for screening of pathological gambling and the BIS-10 for impulsiveness' evaluation, the HAD scale to assess anxiety and depression and the ASRS for the evaluation of attention deficit disorder/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

RESULTS: The rate of pathological gambling in the general population is 1.24% (this result is similar to those found in other places, such as in Quebec). In the general population, the rate of play at risk is of 5.59%. Among the population of gamblers, the rate for pathological gambling (JP) amounted to 9.23% and risk gambling to 10.86%. Men are overrepresented in the group of pathological gamblers (88.9%), also with consumption of alcohol and tobacco. Suicide attempts are more important than in the general population, but the difference was statistically significant. Depression and anxiety are particularly high, 40% of gamblers with an anxiety score significantly higher.

DISCUSSION: The results indicate rates close to those of other countries, such as Canada. It would be necessary to establish follow-up studies of populations and patients, as well as specific studies on people who frequent casinos, racetracks and internet gambling. The importance of the phenomenon is obvious, because almost 20% of players have a gambling problem or risk and these people do not consult despite their psychological problems, family, work, debts.

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