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Psychiatr Serv. 1998 Nov;49(11):1434-9.

Clinical features and psychiatric comorbidity of subjects with pathological gambling behavior.

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Department of Psychiatry, University of Iowa College of Medicine, Iowa City 52242, USA.



Sociodemographic features, phenomenology, and psychiatric comorbidity of 30 subjects reporting pathological gambling behavior were examined.


Twenty-three men and seven women were recruited by advertisement and word-of-mouth. They all scored higher than 5 points on the South Oaks Gambling Screen, indicating problematic gambling behaviors. They completed structured and semistructured assessments, including the Diagnostic Interview Schedule for DSM-III-R disorders (DIS), the Personality Diagnostic Questionnaire, Fourth Revision (PDQ-IV), and the Minnesota Impulsive Disorders Interview.


The typical subject was a 44-year-old white married man with a mean income of $34,250 who visited a casino once or more weekly. All 30 subjects reported gambling more money than they intended to. Twenty subjects (67 percent) reported gambling as a current problem, and nine (30 percent) reported it as a past problem. Twenty-one subjects (70 percent) wanted to stop gambling but did not feel they could. According to DIS results, 18 subjects (60 percent) had a lifetime mood disorder, 19 (64 percent) a lifetime substance use disorder, and 12 (40 percent) a lifetime anxiety disorder. Based on the PDQ-IV, 26 subjects (87 percent) had a personality disorder, the most common being obsessive-compulsive, avoidant, schizotypal, and paranoid personality disorders. The sample also had a relatively high rate of antisocial personality disorder. Impulse control disorders were common, especially compulsive buying and compulsive sexual behavior.


The results confirm that individuals with pathological gambling suffer substantial psychiatric comorbidity. They support continued inclusion of pathological gambling in the diagnostic category of impulse control disorders.

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