Journal of Gambling Studies

, Volume 31, Issue 3, pp 825–847 | Cite as

Compulsivity and Impulsivity in Pathological Gambling: Does a Dimensional–Transdiagnostic Approach Add Clinical Utility to DSM-5 Classification?

  • Gioia Bottesi
  • Marta Ghisi
  • Allison J. Ouimet
  • Michael D. Tira
  • Ezio Sanavio
Original Paper


Although the phenomenology of Pathological Gambling (PG) is clearly characterized by impulsive features, some of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorder (DSM-5) criteria for PG are similar to those of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD). Therefore, the compulsive–impulsive spectrum model may be a better (or complementary) fit with PG phenomenology. The present exploratory research was designed to further investigate the compulsive and impulsive features characterizing PG, by comparing PG individuals, alcohol dependents (ADs), OCD patients, and healthy controls (HCs) on both self-report and cognitive measures of compulsivity and impulsivity. A better understanding of the shared psychological and cognitive mechanisms underlying differently categorized compulsive and impulsive disorders may significantly impact on both clinical assessment and treatment strategies for PG patients. With respect to self-report measures, PG individuals reported more compulsive and impulsive features than did HCs. As regards motor inhibition ability indices, PG individuals and HCs performed similarly on the Go/No-go task and better than AD individuals and OCD patients. Results from the Iowa Gambling Task highlighted that PG, AD, and OCD participants performed worse than did HCs. An in-depth analysis of each group’s learning profile revealed similar patterns of impairment between PG and AD individuals in decision-making processes. Current findings support the utility of adopting a dimensional–transdiagnostic approach to complement the DSM-5 classification when working with PG individuals in clinical practice. Indeed, clinicians are encouraged to assess both compulsivity and impulsivity to provide individualized case conceptualizations and treatment plans focusing on the specific phenomenological features characterizing each PG patient.


Pathological Gambling Compulsive–impulsive spectrum Self-report measures Cognitive measures 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Gioia Bottesi
    • 1
  • Marta Ghisi
    • 1
  • Allison J. Ouimet
    • 2
  • Michael D. Tira
    • 1
  • Ezio Sanavio
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of General PsychologyUniversity of PadovaPaduaItaly
  2. 2.Department of PsychologyConcordia UniversityMontrealCanada

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