Gambling and gaming during COVID-19: The role of mental health and social motives in gambling and gaming problems

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Abstract

Background: The uncertain and stressful global situation caused by the COVID-19 pandemic has the potential to cause anxiety and impact people's mental health. Simultaneously, social distancing policies have isolated people from their normal social interactions. These societal changes have inevitably influenced gambling and gaming practices, and many people may have turned to betting or gaming as a means of social exchange. This study examined the influence of COVID-19 anxiety on increased mental health problems and their relationship to gambling and gaming problems. The mediating role of social motives for gambling and gaming was also investigated. Material and methods: Finnish adults (N = 1530; Mage = 46.67; 50.33% male) were recruited from a volunteer participant panel to participate in a survey study. COVID-19 anxiety was assessed using a scale adapted from the Spielberger State–Trait Anxiety Inventory. Mental health problems were evaluated with the five-item Mental Health Inventory. Gambling problems were measured using the Problem Gambling Severity Index, and gaming problems were measured with the Internet Gaming Disorder Test. Social motives for gaming were evaluated using a single-item measure. Analyses used generalised structural equation modelling. Results: COVID-19 anxiety predicted increased mental health problems, which were associated with heightened gambling and gaming problems. Social motives for gambling and gaming were a significant mediator, suggesting that gambling and gaming problems are emphasized markedly among those who are socially motivated by and involved in such games. Conclusions: Mental health problems experienced during the pandemic and the social properties of games might accentuate gambling and gaming problems.

Original languageEnglish
Article number152331
JournalCOMPREHENSIVE PSYCHIATRY
Volume117
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2022
Publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed

Keywords

  • COVID-19 anxiety
  • Gambling problems
  • Gaming problems
  • Mental health
  • Social motives

Publication forum classification

  • Publication forum level 1

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health

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