A family study of pathological gambling

Donald W. Black, Patrick O. Monahan, M'Hamed Temkit, Martha Shaw

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

85 Scopus citations


The cause of pathological gambling (PG) is unknown. The current study was conducted to determine whether PG is familial, and to examine patterns of familial aggregation of psychiatric disorder. To that end, 31 case probands with DSM-IV PG and 31 control probands were recruited and interviewed regarding their first degree relatives (FDRs). Available and willing FDRs were directly interviewed with structured instruments of known reliability, and best estimate final diagnoses were blindly assigned for 193 case and 142 control relatives over age 18 years. The results were analyzed using logistic regression by the method of generalized estimating equations. The lifetime rates of PG and "any gambling disorder" were significantly greater among the relatives of case probands (8.3% and 12.4%, respectively) than among the control relatives (2.1% and 3.5%, respectively) (OR = 3.36 for "any gambling disorder"). PG relatives also had significantly higher lifetime rates of alcohol disorders, "any substance use disorder," antisocial personality disorder (ASPD), and "any mental disorder". "Any gambling disorder," alcohol disorder, and "any substance use disorder" remained significant after a conservative Bonferroni correction. Interestingly, PG families were significantly larger than control families. We conclude that gambling disorders are familial and co-aggregate with substance misuse. The data are also suggestive that PG co-aggregates with ASPD. Further research on the heritability of PG is warranted.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)295-303
Number of pages9
JournalPsychiatry Research
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 30 2006


  • Addictions
  • Genetics
  • Impulse control disorders

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Biological Psychiatry
  • Psychology(all)

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