Of time and <italic>The Chase</italic>: Lifetime versus past-year measures of pathological gambling


  • Marianna Toce-Gerstein
  • Dean R. Gerstein <italic>National Opinion Research Center at the University of Chicago, Washington, DC U.S.A. E-mail: <email xlink:href="mailto:mtgerstein@norc.uchicago.edu">mtgerstein@norc.uchicago.edu</email></italic>




pathological gambling, Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, chronic disease


Objective: This analysis tested whether past-year measures can be shown to have methodological advantages over lifetime measures of pathological gambling based on DSM-IV criteria.

Methods: Two stratified random-sample surveys (n=2,417, n=530) of gambling behavior and correlates were conducted with community-based U.S. adults. A fully structured questionnaire, administered by trained interviewers, screened for lifetime and past-year prevalence of the 10 DSM-IV criteria for pathological gambling.

Sample: The study sample comprised 1,216 gamblers who were administered the pathological gambling screen, with particular attention given to the 400 gamblers who reported one or more gambling-related problems.

Results: Pathological gambling criteria as measured by lifetime items showed greater consistency with past-year items than was true for other levels of gambling problems. Neither lifetime nor past-year measures were positively related to the age of the respondent.

Conclusion: These findings deny the presumptively greater accuracy of past-year over lifetime measures of pathological gambling based on DSM-IV criteria in prevalence studies in the general population. In view of greater conceptual fidelity to DSM-IV concepts, lifetime measures appear preferable to past-year.






Original Article