Adolescent gambling and substance use are viewed as a public health concern internationally. The early onset age of gambling is a known risk factor for developing gambling problems later in life. The aims of this study are: to evaluate the internal consistency reliability, factorial validity and classification accuracy of the Finnish version of DSM-IV-Multiple Response-Juvenile (DSM-IV-MR-J) criteria measuring at-risk/problem gambling (ARPG); to examine gender differences in gambling participation, ARPG and substance use among first-year junior high school students; and to investigate the association of gambling and gaming (video game playing) participation, substance use and social variables with ARPG.
This study examined 988 adolescents (mean age 13.4 years) at 11 public schools in Finland between October-December 2013. The response rate was 91.6%. Chi-squared test and binary logistic regression analysis were used.
'Illegal acts' was the most endorsed and sensitive, but the least specific criteria identifying ARPG. During the past year, 51.6% of the respondents had gambled, 7.9% were identified as at-risk/problem gamblers (DSM-IV-MR-J score?=?2), 8.0% had smoked and 8.9% had been drinking for intoxication, and the first three were significantly more common among boys than girls. The odds ratio of being a male past-year at-risk/problem gambler was 2.27, 5.78 for gambling often or sometimes, 2.42 for video game playing weekly or more often and 6.23 for having peer gamblers.
Overall, the Finnish version of the DSM-IV-MR-J had acceptable internal consistency reliability and factorial validity. None of the DSM-IV-MR-J criteria were accurate enough to screen ARPG per se. ARPG past-year prevalence was relatively high with males gambling more than females. ARPG was as common as drinking alcohol for intoxication and smoking. Peer gambling was strongly associated with ARPG. Efficient strategies to minimise the risks of gambling problems, tools for prevention and identification of ARPG among the underage are needed.
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