A new study conducted by researchers from Karolinska Institutet has revealed that gambling addiction can significantly increase the risk of long-term sick leave over several years. The study, published in Psychological Medicine, emphasizes the importance of early detection and intervention to prevent financial and health problems associated with this psychiatric condition.
Gambling addiction is characterized by excessive and problematic gambling behavior that leads to adverse consequences in various aspects of an individual’s life, including finances, health, and social relationships. In Sweden, approximately 105,000 individuals, or 1.3 percent of the population, struggle with gambling problems or are at an increased risk. However, it is believed that many cases go unreported, making it a “hidden addiction” that often operates unnoticed.
The research team analyzed data from national registers and examined 2,830 working-age individuals diagnosed with gambling addiction over a period of six years. They compared this group with a control group of 28,300 individuals without a gambling addiction diagnosis. The researchers were able to control for various factors such as physical and mental health, age, education level, and residential area, thanks to the extensive data available in the registers.
The findings of the study indicate that individuals with gambling addiction had an alarming 89% higher risk of being on long-term sick leave, defined as more than 90 days per year during the year of diagnosis. This highlights the detrimental impact of gambling addiction on an individual’s ability to work, which is vital for both their mental and financial recovery.
Furthermore, the study revealed that certain factors were associated with an increased risk of long-term sick leave among individuals with gambling addiction. Being female, having lower levels of education, and residing in less densely populated areas were identified as risk factors. This suggests that there are disparities in the risks faced by different groups within the population.
The results of this study underline the need for comprehensive knowledge about the long-term consequences of gambling addiction and its effects on an individual’s health, workability, financial stability, and societal participation. Early detection of gambling problems and increased access to support services are crucial in breaking negative trajectories and mitigating the extensive harms that can occur before diagnosis and intervention.
Moving forward, the researchers intend to focus on developing methods for earlier detection of gambling addiction and raising awareness among healthcare professionals. Additionally, they plan to conduct longer-term studies spanning up to ten years to gain a deeper understanding of the long-term consequences of gambling addiction on both affected individuals and their environment.
The research was primarily funded by Region Stockholm and Forte, demonstrating the significance placed on addressing the issue of gambling addiction and its consequences for individuals and society as a whole.
Q: What is gambling addiction?
A: Gambling addiction is a psychiatric condition characterized by prolonged and problematic gambling behavior that leads to negative financial, health, and social consequences.
Q: How many people in Sweden have gambling problems?
A: Approximately 1.3 percent of the Swedish population, corresponding to 105,000 individuals, have gambling problems or an increased risk of gambling problems. However, the actual number of unreported cases is believed to be higher.
Q: What were the main findings of the study?
A: The study found that individuals with gambling addiction had an 89% higher risk of being on long-term sick leave, defined as more than 90 days per year. Certain factors, such as gender, education level, and residential area, were also associated with an increased risk of long-term sick leave among individuals with gambling addiction.
Q: Why is early detection of gambling addiction important?
A: Early detection of gambling addiction is crucial to prevent the development of extensive financial and health problems. By identifying and addressing gambling problems at an earlier stage in healthcare and workplaces, individuals can be provided with the necessary support to break negative trajectories and avoid long-term consequences.
Q: Will there be further research on gambling addiction?
A: Yes, the researchers plan to continue developing methods for earlier detection of gambling addiction and educating healthcare professionals about the issue. Additionally, longer-term studies spanning up to ten years will be conducted to gain more insights into the long-term consequences of gambling addiction.