Journal of Gambling Studies

, Volume 27, Issue 4, pp 663–683 | Cite as

Pathological Gambling and Posttraumatic Stress Disorder: A Study of the Co-Morbidity versus Each Alone

  • Lisa M. Najavits
  • Tamar Meyer
  • Kay M. Johnson
  • David Korn
Original Paper


This report is the first empirical study to compare pathological gambling (PG), posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and their co-occurrence. The sample was 106 adults recruited from the community (35 with current PG; 36 with current PTSD, and 35 with BOTH). Using a cross-sectional design, the three groups were rigorously diagnosed and compared on various measures including sociodemographics, psychopathology (e.g., dissociation, suicidality, comorbid Axis I and II disorders), functioning, cognition, life history, and severity of gambling and PTSD. Overall, the PG group reported better psychological health and higher functioning than PTSD or BOTH; and there were virtually no differences between PTSD and BOTH. This suggests that it is the impact of PTSD, rather than comorbidity per se, that appears to drive a substantial increase in symptoms. We also found high rates of additional co-occurring disorders and suicidality in PTSD and BOTH, which warrants further clinical attention. Across the total sample, many reported a family history of substance use disorder (59%) and gambling problems (34%), highlighting the intergenerational impact of these. We also found notable subthreshold PTSD and gambling symptoms even among those not diagnosed with the disorders, suggesting a need for preventive care. Dissociation measures had mixed results. Discussion includes methodology considerations and future research areas.


Problem gambling Pathological gambling PTSD Posttraumatic stress disorder Trauma Comorbidity 



This project was funded by the Ontario Problem Gambling Research Centre (OPGRC). Opinions expressed in this final report are those of the authors, and do not necessarily represent the views of the OPGRC. We offer our gratitude to Margreet Jansma, who conducted qualitative interviews for the Boston site; and to Shawn Gates, who conducted assessments for the Toronto site.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Lisa M. Najavits
    • 1
    • 2
  • Tamar Meyer
    • 3
  • Kay M. Johnson
    • 2
  • David Korn
    • 3
  1. 1.Harvard Medical SchoolBostonUSA
  2. 2.Treatment InnovationsNewton CentreUSA
  3. 3.Dalla Lana School of Public HealthUniversity of TorontoTorontoCanada

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