METHODS: Systematic literature searches in accordance with PRISMA guidelines found 51 eligible studies that met inclusion criteria. Eight studies utilized both Waves 1 and 2 NESARC data, and selection of sample sizes varied from 185 to 43,093 individuals, consistent with specified research objectives of each study.
RESULTS: The prevalence of lifetime pathological gambling was 0.42% (0.64% among men, 0.23% among women), while past-year prevalence was 0.16%. Pathological gambling rates were generally higher in populations with substance-use disorders and other psychiatric diagnoses. Rates of adverse childhood experiences and suicidal attempts were higher among individuals with problem or pathological gambling. Early-onset gamblers were more likely to be male, be never married, have incomes below $70,000, belong to younger cohorts and have Cluster B personality disorders, but less likely to be diagnosed with mood disorders. While pathological gambling was related to obesity, increased stress, and poorer physical health among general age groups, recreational gambling was linked with improved physical and mental functioning in older adults.
CONCLUSIONS: The NESARC has provided important information on the correlates of pathological gambling and subdiagnostic patterns of gambling behaviors. Additional studies should examine these relationships in the current gambling environment and longitudinally with aims of implementing policies to improve the public health.