Open Access Research

Factors associated with disordered gambling in Finland

Sari Castrén12*, Syaron Basnet14, Anne H Salonen1, Maiju Pankakoski1, Jenni-Emilia Ronkainen1, Hannu Alho13 and Tuuli Lahti14

Author Affiliations

1 National Institute for Health and Welfare, Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services, P.O. Box 30 Helsinki, FO 00271 Finland

2 Institute of Behavioural Sciences, University of Helsinki, Faculty of Behavioural Sciences, Helsinki, Finland

3 Institute of Clinical Medicine, Department of Medicine, Research Unit of Substance Abuse Medicine, University of Helsinki, Helsinki, Finland

4 Department of Behavioural Sciences and Philosophy, University of Turku, Faculty of Social Sciences, Turku, Finland

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Substance Abuse Treatment, Prevention, and Policy 2013, 8:24  doi:10.1186/1747-597X-8-24

Published: 1 July 2013



The purpose of this study was to compare the socio-demographic characteristics of non-problem gamblers, problem gamblers and pathological gamblers, to investigate the association between gambling related factors and perceived health and well-being among the three subgroups of gamblers, and to analyse simultaneously socio-demographic characteristics, gambling related factors and perceived health and well-being and the severity of disordered gambling (problem gamblers and pathological gamblers).


The data were collected through a nationwide telephone survey in 2011. Participants were selected through a random population sample of 15-74-year-old Finns. From that sample, persons with any past-year gambling involvement (N = 3451) were selected for a subsample for the descriptive and inferential analysis in the present paper. Gambling was assessed using the South Oaks Gambling Screen. Statistical significance was determined by chi-squared tests. The odds ratio and effect size were computed by using multivariate-adjusted multinomial logistic regression analysis.


The most significant socio-demographic characteristics (male gender, young age, education ≤12 years), gambling related factors (slot machine gambling, internet gambling) and perceived health and well-being (feeling lonely, smoking daily, risky alcohol consumption, mental health problems) explained 22.9 per cent of the variation in the severity of disordered gambling.


Male gender and loneliness were found to be associated with problem gambling in particular, along with smoking and risky alcohol consumption. Mental health problems and risky alcohol consumption were associated with pathological gambling. These identified associations between disordered gambling, mental health problems and risky alcohol consumption should be taken into consideration when implementing screenings of disordered gambling.

Disordered gambling; Pathological gambling; Population survey; Problem gambling; Public health; South Oaks Gambling Screen