"Our findings reveal that there is a considerable link between youth impulsivity in the younger years and gambling issues as older teens," says Silvia Martins, MD, PhD, assistant professor of Epidemiology at Columbia's Mailman School of Public Health. "This has important implications and provides clear research support for targeting impulsivity to prevent youth problem gambling."
While other research has shown a connection between impulsiveness and gambling, those studies measured impulsivity at a single point-in-time and gambling either concurrently or at a later point-in-time, rather than linking gambling in the late teens to traits of impulsiveness as early as first grade. The earlier studies also based their findings on a predominantly white population sample. What further sets the current research apart is that it specifically considers socioeconomic status of urban minority youth, a population that is disproportionately more likely to exhibit both impulsivity and problem gambling. "We see this as a study strength, given the small amount of research there is on the impulsivity-gambling association among urban minority populations. However, generalizations to the larger population should be made with caution," warns Dr. Martins, principal investigator on the research.
"We also chose to base our study on males only because females tend to exhibit lower levels of impulsivity and show different patterns of development compared to males," observed Dr. Martins.
Noteworthy, too, is the fact that the Columbia researchers used teacher-reported assessments rather than participants' self-reported measures of impulsivity as was the case in earlier works. "Teacher ratings of youth impulsivity tend to be more consistent and reliable for predicting future psychiatric disorder diagnoses compared to adolescent self-reports," says Dr. Martins.
|Contact: Stephanie Berger|
Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health