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Marital Status and Problem Gambling among Older Adults: An Examination of Social Context and Social Motivations

  • Tara Elton-Marshall (a1) (a2) (a3), Rochelle Wijesingha (a1) (a4), Taryn Sendzik (a1) (a5), Steven E. Mock (a6), Mark van der Maas (a1), John McCready (a7), Robert E. Mann (a1) (a2) and Nigel E. Turner (a1) (a2)...

Older adults represent the highest proportion of gamblers (Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation [OLG], 2012). Unpartnered older adults may be more socially isolated and lonely (Dykstra & de Jong Gierveld, 2004), thus more likely to be at risk for problem gambling (McQuade & Gill, 2012). We examined whether gambling to socialize or from loneliness and going to the casino with friends/family mediate the relation between marital status and problem gambling. Data from a random sample of older adults at gambling venues across Southwestern Ontario indicated that gambling with family/friends and gambling due to loneliness mediated the relationship between marital status and problem gambling. Relative to those married, unpartnered older adults were less likely to gamble with family/friends, more likely to gamble due to loneliness, and had higher problem gambling. Prevention and treatment initiatives should examine ways to decrease loneliness and social isolation among older adults and offer alternative social activities.

Les personnes âgées constituent, en proportion, la population la plus importante parmi les joueurs (Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation [OLG], 2012). Les joueurs célibataires seraient plus isolés socialement et solitaires (Dykstra & de Jong Gierveld, 2004), et plus susceptibles de s’engager dans le jeu, présentant ainsi des risques accrus pour le jeu compulsif (McQuade & Gill, 2012). Cette étude a examiné si des motivations sociales (jeu associé à la socialisation ou à la solitude) et le contexte social (sorties au casino avec des amis ou la famille) expliquent la relation entre le statut matrimonial et le jeu compulsif chez les personnes âgées. Nous avons aussi exploré si ces associations diffèrent en fonction du genre. Les données ont été extraites d’un échantillon aléatoire de 2103 adultes âgés de 55 ans et plus qui ont été contactés dans des sites de jeu du sud-ouest de l’Ontario. Ces données ont indiqué que le jeu en compagnie de la famille ou d’amis et le jeu associé à la solitude médient la relation entre le statut matrimonial et le jeu compulsif. Les personnes âgées célibataires étaient moins susceptibles de jouer avec de la famille ou des amis, comparativement aux aînés qui étaient mariés; ils étaient plus susceptibles d’utiliser le jeu pour contrer la solitude et leur profil de jeu était davantage compulsif. Les initiatives de prévention et de traitement devraient examiner les moyens permettant de diminuer la solitude et l’isolement social chez les personnes âgées, et offrir des activités sociales alternatives.

Corresponding author
La correspondance et les demandes de tirés-à-part doivent être adressées à : / Correspondence and requests for offprints should be sent to: Tara Elton-Marshall, Ph.D. Institute for Mental Health Policy Research Centre for Addiction and Mental Health 200-100 Collip Circle London, ON N6G 4X8 <>
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We thank Sue Steinback for her assistance with referencing and formatting the manuscript. This project was funded by Gambling Research Exchange Ontario (GREO).

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Canadian Journal on Aging / La Revue canadienne du vieillissement
  • ISSN: 0714-9808
  • EISSN: 1710-1107
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