Impulse control disorders and attention deficit disorder in pathological gamblers

Sheila M Specker, G. A. Carlson, G. A. Christenson, M. Marcotte

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135 Scopus citations


Little systematic research has been done on psychiatric comorbidity of pathological gambling, an impulse control disorder. This report describes the occurrence of attention deficit disorder and impulse control disorders in 40 pathological gamblers in treatment for gambling problems and 64 controls. Diagnoses were made by structured interviews which utilized operationalized diagnostic criteria. An impulse control disorder other than pathological gambling was noted in 35% of the pathological gamblers, compared to 3% of the controls (p < .001). Compulsive buying (p < .001) and compulsive sexual behavior (p < .05) were significantly higher in pathological gamblers than controls. A strong association was seen among pathological gambling, attention deficit, and other impulse control disorders. Attention deficit disorder was seen in 20% of the pathological gamblers. Rates of impulse control disorders did not differ by gender. Implications of these high rates of comorbidity are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)175-179
Number of pages5
JournalAnnals of Clinical Psychiatry
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jan 1 1995


  • Attention deficit
  • Impulse control
  • Pathological gambling


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