This study examined differences in the clinical and treatment-related features of pathological gambling (PG) on the basis of the age of PG onset among pathological gamblers who sought treatment.
A total of 702 male outpatients with a primary diagnosis of PG and who were treated in a clinical practice were assessed by retrospective chart review. We selected the age of 25 years and younger as the threshold for “group 1.” We then stratified the participants into 4 groups on the basis of the age of PG onset in 10-year intervals. Analysis of covariance with a covariant of age and the Pearson χ2 test were used for analyses.
We found that the earlier-onset gamblers were less likely to be escape type (P < 0.05), used significantly more Internet-based gambling (P < 0.001), and were less likely to engage in nonstrategic gambling (P < 0.05) than the later-onset gamblers. In addition, the earlier-onset gamblers took anticraving medication, such as naltrexone, significantly more often (P < 0.05), and sought treatment significantly more slowly after the onset of PG than the later-onset group (P < 0.01). Regarding adherence to treatment, however, there was no significant difference among the 4 groups on the basis of the age of PG onset.
The age of PG onset is associated with several important clinical and treatment features. More studies are needed to advance prevention and treatment strategies for each age group.