Moderate to severe gambling problems and traumatic brain injury: A population-based study

Nigel E. Turner, André J. McDonald, Anca R. Ialomiteanu, Robert E. Mann, John McCready, Dov Millstone, Hayley Hamilton, Tara Elton-Marshall, Jurgen Rehm, Paul Kurdyak, Gabriela Ilie, Christine M. Wickens, Thao Lan Le, Mark van der Maas, Neda Faregh, Steven Cook, Susan Bondy, Sherald Sanchez, Michael D. Cusimano

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


Traumatic brain injury (TBI) is a common injury characterized by a change in brain function after an external blow to the head and is associated with substance abuse, psychological distress, risk-taking, and impulsivity. Convenience and clinical samples have also linked TBI to problem gambling, but have not ruled out confounding variables such as hazardous drinking and psychological distress. This study examines the relationship between TBI and moderate to severe problem gambling in a general population probability sample controlling for hazardous drinking and psychological distress. The data were obtained from a 2015–2016 cross-sectional general population telephone survey of adults ages 18+from Ontario, Canada (N = 3809). Logistic regression was used to estimate the association as adjusted odds ratios (AOR). Moderate to severe problem gambling was independently associated with a history of TBI after adjusting for potential confounders (AOR: 2.80), and had a statistically significant relationship with psychological distress (AOR = 2.74), hazardous drinking (AOR = 2.69), and lower educational levels (AOR = 0.37). This study provides further data to suggest a link between TBI and moderate to severe problem gambling; however, more research is needed to determine if there is a causal relationship or the potential implications for prevention and treatment.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)692-697
Number of pages6
JournalPsychiatry Research
StatePublished - Feb 2019
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Biological Psychiatry


  • Population-based
  • Problem gambling
  • Survey
  • Traumatic brain injury


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