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Special Issue "Risk and Protective Factors in the Development of Pathological Gambling among Adolescents and Young Adults"

A special issue of International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health (ISSN 1660-4601). This special issue belongs to the section "Mental Health".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (30 June 2021).

Special Issue Editors

Prof. Alessia Passanisi
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Faculty of Human and Social Sciences, UKE—Kore University of Enna, 94100 Enna, Italy
Interests: behavioral addictions; personality; concepts; categorization; gambling
Prof. Dr. Ugo Pace
E-Mail Website
Assistant Guest Editor
Faculty of Human and Social Sciences, UKE—Kore University of Enna, 94100 Enna, Italy
Interests: gambling; adolescence; personality; behavioral addictions; LGBT
Dr. Giulio D’Urso
E-Mail Website
Assistant Guest Editor
School of Education, University College Dublin, Belfield, Dublin 4, Ireland
Interests: gambling; adolescence; personality; behavioral addictions; LGBT

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

We are organizing a Special Issue on the cognitive and personality variables involved in the development of adolescent gambling in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health. The venue is a peer-reviewed, scientific journal that publishes articles and communications in the interdisciplinary area of environmental health sciences and public health. For detailed information about the journal, we refer you to https://www.mdpi.com/journal/ijerph.

Pathological gambling (PG) belongs to the diagnostic class of substance-related and addictive disorder. In fact, according to the DSM-5 (APA, 2013) gambling disorder is categorized as a non-substance-related addictive behavior and can be described as a pattern of persistent and recurrent gambling behavior leading to considerable clinical impairments, i.e., needs to gamble with an increasing amount of money, anxiety or irritability when it is not possible to play, jeopardizing relationship and career because of gambling, etc.

Literature highlights that PG is a phenomenon more common among men than women (Ellenbogen et al., 2007; Pace and Passanisi, 2017). Furthermore, it is well known that this problem affects both young people and adults in terms of prevalence and entities. Adolescents sometimes, although they play less, report more severe episodes than adults (Bastiani et al., 2013).

This Special Issue aims to develop a better understanding of the factors that foster the development and maintenance of PG in adolescence and young adulthood, or that can act as a buffer to contain the aforementioned addictive behavior, which may serve to inform effective prevention measures and appropriate treatments. We welcome manuscripts on PG from any subject area, supported by methodologically sound research engaging valid and reliable procedures.

A main focus is given to research investigating cognitive and personality factors in PG among adolescents and emerging adults outlining a complex set of cognitive mechanisms as well as maladaptive or dysfunctional personality traits.

The listed keywords suggest just a few of the many possibilities.

Prof. Alessia Passanisi
Prof. Ugo Pace
Dr. Giulio D’Urso
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health is an international peer-reviewed open access semimonthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 2300 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • pathological gambling
  • adolescents
  • young adults
  • poor decision making
  • distorted perceptions
  • impulsivity
  • alexithymia
  • antagonism
  • withdrawal

Published Papers (8 papers)

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Research

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Communication
Teacher-Rated School Leadership and Adolescent Gambling: A Study of Upper Secondary Schools in Stockholm, Sweden
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2021, 18(18), 9660; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph18189660 - 14 Sep 2021
Viewed by 341
Abstract
So-called “effective schools” are characterised by properties such as a strong and purposeful school leadership and a favourable school ethos. In a previous study we showed that a school’s degree of teacher-rated ethos was inversely associated with student gambling and risk gambling. Building [...] Read more.
So-called “effective schools” are characterised by properties such as a strong and purposeful school leadership and a favourable school ethos. In a previous study we showed that a school’s degree of teacher-rated ethos was inversely associated with student gambling and risk gambling. Building on these findings, the current study aims to examine the associations that teachers’ ratings of the school leadership share with gambling and risk gambling among students in the second grade of upper secondary school in Stockholm (age 17–18 years). Data were drawn from the Stockholm School Survey and the Stockholm Teacher Survey with information from 5191 students and 1061 teachers in 46 upper secondary schools. School-level information from administrative registers was also linked to the data. The statistical method was two-level binary logistic regression analysis. Teachers’ average ratings of the school leadership were inversely associated with both gambling (OR 0.96, 95% CI 0.93–0.998, p = 0.039) and risk gambling (OR 0.94, 95% CI 0.89–0.99, p = 0.031) among upper secondary students, whilst adjusting for sociodemographic characteristics at the student and the school level. The findings lend further support to the hypothesis that characteristics of effective schools may reduce students’ inclination to engage in gambling and risk gambling behaviours. Full article
Article
Are Impulsive Decisions Always Irrational? An Experimental Investigation of Impulsive Decisions in the Domains of Gains and Losses
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2021, 18(16), 8518; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph18168518 - 12 Aug 2021
Viewed by 472
Abstract
Intertemporal choices are very prevalent in daily life, ranging from simple, mundane decisions to highly consequential decisions. In this context, thinking about the future and making sound decisions are crucial to promoting mental and physical health, as well as a financially sustainable lifestyle. [...] Read more.
Intertemporal choices are very prevalent in daily life, ranging from simple, mundane decisions to highly consequential decisions. In this context, thinking about the future and making sound decisions are crucial to promoting mental and physical health, as well as a financially sustainable lifestyle. In the present study, we set out to investigate some of the possible underlying mechanisms, such as cognitive factors and emotional states, that promote future-oriented decisions. In a cross-sectional experimental study, we used a gain and a loss version of an intertemporal monetary choices task. Our main behavioural result indicated that people are substantially more impulsive over smaller and sooner monetary losses compared to equivalent gains. In addition, for both decisional domains, significant individual difference predictors emerged, indicating that intertemporal choices are sensitive to the affective and cognitive parameters. By focusing on the cognitive and emotional individual factors that influence impulsive decisions, our study could constitute a building block for successful future intervention programs targeted at mental and physical health issues, including gambling behaviour. Full article
Article
The Mediating Role of Psychological Distress in Excessive Gambling among Young People: A Four-Country Study
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2021, 18(13), 6973; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph18136973 - 29 Jun 2021
Viewed by 693
Abstract
Background and aims: Loneliness and a low sense of mastery are associated with excessive gambling, but the underlying processes of these relationships remain unstudied. Because psychological distress can increase vulnerability to excessive gambling, we investigated its mediating role in these relationships among young [...] Read more.
Background and aims: Loneliness and a low sense of mastery are associated with excessive gambling, but the underlying processes of these relationships remain unstudied. Because psychological distress can increase vulnerability to excessive gambling, we investigated its mediating role in these relationships among young people. To meet the need for cross-country research, we also observed how these relationships occur in four countries with different cultures. Design, setting, and participants: Demographically balanced cross-sectional survey data were collected from 15–25-year-olds in Finland (n = 1200; 50% male), the United States (n = 1212; 49.8% male), South Korea (n = 1192; 49.6% male), and Spain (n = 1212; 51.2% male). Measurements: Excessive gambling was measured with the South Oaks Gambling Screen, psychological distress was assessed with the 12-item General Health Questionnaire, loneliness was measured with the three-item Loneliness Scale, and low sense of mastery was assessed with the Pearlin Mastery Scale. Associations were examined first using zero-inflated negative binomial regression analyses with excessive gambling as the outcome. In addition, path analyses were performed to study how loneliness and low sense of mastery relate to excessive gambling, with psychological distress as the mediating variable. Findings: Loneliness and low sense of mastery were associated indirectly with excessive gambling via psychological distress in all country samples. Low sense of mastery was also directly associated with excessive gambling. There was a direct association between loneliness and excessive gambling only in samples from South Korea and Spain. Conclusions: Psychological distress is an important factor in understanding how loneliness and sense of mastery relate to gambling. Full article
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Article
No Apparent Increase in Treatment Uptake for Gambling Disorder during Ten Months of the COVID-19 Pandemic—Analysis of a Regional Specialized Treatment Unit in Sweden
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2021, 18(4), 1918; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph18041918 - 17 Feb 2021
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 945
Abstract
The COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on society has been suspected to affect gambling behaviors. Potentially, the pandemic crisis may result in increased problem gambling, for example, due to COVID-19-related psychological distress, unemployment, and financial difficulties. In addition, the cancellation of sports in [...] Read more.
The COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on society has been suspected to affect gambling behaviors. Potentially, the pandemic crisis may result in increased problem gambling, for example, due to COVID-19-related psychological distress, unemployment, and financial difficulties. In addition, the cancellation of sports in early parts of the crisis has been suspected to alter gambling behaviors. Policy makers have called for action and, in some cases, have changed regulations, and media have reported possible increases in treatment seeking. However, research data are hitherto lacking. The present study assessed the treatment uptake at a regional specialized gambling-disorder unit in the healthcare system of Region Skåne, Sweden. Number of patients, treatment contacts, and patterns of rescheduling or cancellations of appointments were quantified for each month, January–December 2020, and compared to corresponding months of 2018 and 2019. Possible trends were analyzed, using an interrupted time-series analysis. Results did not indicate an increase in treatment uptake for gambling disorder during the months of COVID-19 impact in Sweden. The proportion of digital treatment increased, but total treatment uptake was unaffected by the pandemic. In conclusion, during the first ten months of the pandemic in Sweden, no obvious increase in treatment uptake for gambling disorder could be seen. Moreover, longer follow-up may be necessary in order to see if effects of worsening socioeconomic conditions may be a possible long-term risk factor of increased gambling after COVID-19. Full article
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Article
Sensation Seeking and Gambling Behavior in Adolescence: Can Externalizing Problems Moderate this Relationship?
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2020, 17(23), 8986; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph17238986 - 02 Dec 2020
Viewed by 723
Abstract
Gambling is a widespread phenomenon during adolescence. Among different risk factors involved in the onset of adolescent gambling behaviors, one factor that is studied is the sensation seeking personality trait. However, the literature is heterogeneous and a direct relationship between sensation seeking and [...] Read more.
Gambling is a widespread phenomenon during adolescence. Among different risk factors involved in the onset of adolescent gambling behaviors, one factor that is studied is the sensation seeking personality trait. However, the literature is heterogeneous and a direct relationship between sensation seeking and gaming behaviors has not always been highlighted. This suggests that the relationship can be influenced by other factors. In particular, we explored the moderating role of externalizing problems in this relationship. A total of 363 adolescents (232 males and 131 females) aged 14 to 20 (M = 16.35, SD = 1.36) completed a battery of questionnaires aimed to assess their gambling behaviors, as well as the levels of externalizing problems and sensation seeking. The results showed that sensation seeking was associated with gambling severity, but this relationship was significant when externalizing problems were high and medium. On the contrary, when externalizing problems were low, the relationship between sensation seeking and gambling severity was not significant. Overall, sensation seeking in adolescence can favor the implementation of risk behaviors, such as gambling, but only in association with the presence of externalizing problems. Limitations, strengths, and social and clinical implications of the present study are discussed. Full article
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Article
Psychological Distress and Problem Gambling in Elite Athletes during COVID-19 Restrictions—A Web Survey in Top Leagues of Three Sports during the Pandemic
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2020, 17(18), 6693; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph17186693 - 14 Sep 2020
Cited by 28 | Viewed by 3543
Abstract
COVID-19 and lockdown strategies may affect mental health and addictive behavior differently in the population, and elite athletes are among the professions clearly affected by the pandemic. This study in top elite athletes aimed to study current perceived psychological influence from COVID-19 and [...] Read more.
COVID-19 and lockdown strategies may affect mental health and addictive behavior differently in the population, and elite athletes are among the professions clearly affected by the pandemic. This study in top elite athletes aimed to study current perceived psychological influence from COVID-19 and symptoms of depression, anxiety and changes in alcohol drinking, gambling behavior and problem gambling in the midst of the COVID-19 lockdown. This web survey included athletes in top leagues of soccer, ice hockey and handball in Sweden (N = 327, 62% men). A total of 66% and 51% were worried about the future of their sport or about their own future in sports, respectively. Feeling worse psychologically during the pandemic was common (72% of women, 40% of men, p < 0.001); depression criteria were endorsed by 19% of women and three percent of men (p < 0.001); anxiety criteria by 20% of women and five percent of men (p < 0.001). Reporting increased gambling during the pandemic was associated with gambling problem severity. Moderate-risk or problem gambling was seen in 10% of men and none of the women (p < 0.001). Depression and anxiety were associated with feeling worse during the COVID-19 pandemic and with concern over one’s own sports future. In conclusion, COVID-19-related distress is common in elite athletes and associated with mental health symptoms. Gambling increase during the pandemic was rare, but related to gambling problems, which were common in male athletes. The calls for increased focus on COVID-19-related concerns in athletes and on problem gambling in male athletes. Full article

Review

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Review
Problem Gambling ‘Fuelled on the Fly’
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2021, 18(16), 8607; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph18168607 - 14 Aug 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 549
Abstract
Problem gambling is a gambling disorder often described as continued gambling in the face of increasing losses. In this article, we explored problem gambling behaviour and its psychological determinants. We considered the assumption of stability in risky preferences, anticipated by both normative and [...] Read more.
Problem gambling is a gambling disorder often described as continued gambling in the face of increasing losses. In this article, we explored problem gambling behaviour and its psychological determinants. We considered the assumption of stability in risky preferences, anticipated by both normative and descriptive theories of decision making, as well as recent evidence that risk preferences are in fact ‘constructed on the fly’ during risk elicitation. Accordingly, we argue that problem gambling is a multifaceted disorder, which is ‘fueled on the fly’ by a wide range of contextual and non-contextual influences, including individual differences in personality traits, hormonal and emotional activations. We have proposed that the experience of gambling behaviour in itself is a dynamic experience of events in time series, where gamblers anchor on the most recent event—typically a small loss or rare win. This is a highly adaptive, but erroneous, decision-making mechanism, where anchoring on the most recent event alters the psychological representations of substantial and accumulated loss in the past to a representation of negligible loss. In other words, people feel better while they gamble. We conclude that problem gambling researchers and policy makers will need to employ multifaceted and holistic approaches to understand problem gambling. Full article
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Review
Attitudes, Risk Factors, and Behaviours of Gambling among Adolescents and Young People: A Literature Review and Gap Analysis
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2021, 18(3), 984; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph18030984 - 22 Jan 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1401
Abstract
Gambling is occurring in a rapidly changing landscape, with new trends and technologies affecting gambling behaviour and problem gambling across a range of populations. Gambling activity among adolescents and young people has received considerable research attention due to a high prevalence of gambling [...] Read more.
Gambling is occurring in a rapidly changing landscape, with new trends and technologies affecting gambling behaviour and problem gambling across a range of populations. Gambling activity among adolescents and young people has received considerable research attention due to a high prevalence of gambling reported among these groups in recent years. Despite legislation worldwide to constrain gambling among adolescents and young people, modern technology, such as online gaming apps and online gambling venues, has significantly increased their exposure to the risks of problem gambling. It is important, therefore, to have up to date information about what is currently known about gambling and to explore gaps in our knowledge. This gap analysis presents the results of a systematic approach to reviewing the current literature on gambling behaviour, attitudes, and associated risk factors for gambling and problem gambling among adolescents and young adults (aged 10–25 years). The review included studies published between January 2015 and August 2020 and included 85 studies for final synthesis. Findings reveal further research is needed on the implications for young people of emerging technologies and new trends in gambling in the digital age. The current gap analysis reveals that this should include more research on the development and impact of both treatment and intervention strategies, and policy and regulatory frameworks from a public health perspective. Full article
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