Journal of Gambling Studies

, Volume 32, Issue 3, pp 877–887 | Cite as

Intergenerational Childhood Maltreatment in Persons with DSM-IV Pathological Gambling and Their First-Degree Relatives

  • Samuel K. Shultz
  • Martha Shaw
  • Brett McCormick
  • Jeff Allen
  • Donald W. Black
Original Paper


This study investigates the characteristics of individuals with DSM-IV pathological gambling (PG) who experienced childhood maltreatment and rates of maltreatment occurring in their first-degree relatives (FDRs). 94 subjects with DSM-IV PG, 91 controls, and 312 FDRs were assessed for childhood maltreatment as part of a family study of PG. Maltreatment was evaluated using the Revised Childhood Experiences Questionnaire. The Family Assessment Device was used to evaluate the functionality of the PG subject’s (or control’s) family of origin. Data were analyzed using logistic regression by the method of generalized estimating equations. Rates of maltreatment were significantly higher in subjects with PG than controls (61 vs. 25 %, P < 0.001). Subjects with PG who experienced maltreatment were more likely to be female, had more severe PG symptoms, had co-occurring mood and anxiety disorders, and reported greater early family life dysfunction than those with PG who did not experience maltreatment. Rates of maltreatment were higher in FDRs of PG subjects than controls (41 vs. 24 %, P = .002). Rates in FDRs of individuals with PG who experienced maltreatment themselves were still higher that in FDRs of those with PG who did not experience maltreatment (50 vs. 28 %, P = .009). The former were also more likely to have anxiety disorders, substance use disorders, and suicide attempts. The results suggest that childhood maltreatment in persons with PG is common and intergenerational. Rates of maltreatment in FDRs of PG subjects are high, particularly among those who experienced abuse. The implications of the findings are discussed.


Abuse Maltreatment Trauma Gambling disorder Family studies 



The research was supported through grants from the National Institute on Drug Abuse (R01DA021361), and the National Institute on Aging (R01AG037132), Bethesda, MD. Dr. Black receives research support from AstraZeneca. He receives royalties from American Psychiatric Publishing, Oxford University Press, and UpToDate.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of interest

Drs. Schultz and Allen, Mr. McCormick, and Ms. Shaw report no conflicts.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Samuel K. Shultz
    • 1
  • Martha Shaw
    • 1
  • Brett McCormick
    • 1
  • Jeff Allen
    • 1
  • Donald W. Black
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Psychiatry, 2-126B MEB/Psychiatry ResearchUniversity of Iowa Roy J. and Lucille A. Carver College of MedicineIowa CityUSA

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