Child Maltreatment and Neglect Linked to Gambling

Faculty; Public Health; Research; Social Work

Childhood maltreatment was found to be associated across categories of gambling outcomes, according to research from the Brown School at Washington University in St. Louis.

Analysts examined data from 13,291 young adults ages 18–26 self-identifying as European American or African American who participated in Wave III of the restricted-use National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent to Adult Health.

They found associations between gambling and childhood maltreatment, physical discipline and alcohol use. Childhood neglect was also associated with gambling, with African Americans at higher risk, as was cannabis use.

“Clinicians and treatment providers should query about maltreatment history as part of their assessment, as problem gamblers are more likely to have a history of childhood maltreatment,” wrote co-authors Renee Cunningham-Williams, associate professor at the Brown School and Manik Ahuja, a post-doctoral researcher.

“Our results revealed that African Americans who were current users of cannabis were significantly more likely to gamble across multiple gambling types than European Americans,” they wrote. “We recommend tailored cannabis use prevention programs that address the needs of African American adolescents and young adults.”

The paper was published Oct. 16 in the Journal of Substance Abuse and Alcoholism.

Ahuja will be presenting the work at the annual conference of the Society for Social Work and Research January 16-20 in San Francisco.