Are behavioural addictions all alike?: a comparison of Internet Addiction with Gambling Addiction, in an ongoing cross-sectional study of online VS non-online problem gamblers

First published: 10 May 2019 | Last updated: 20 May 2019

Background: While the concept of internet addiction has captured the public ‘s imagination, the validity of the concept with the scientific community remains in doubt. One reason for this is the changing ways in which people access the internet. However, this situation is not unique to Internet Addiction. In particular, the increasing accessibility of the internet has meant people are able to gamble via the internet, through their smartphones or computers. There is thus uncertainty regarding the degree of overlap this may have with pre-existing forms of gambling, or with the original concept of ‘Internet Addiction’.

Aim: To determine whether problem gamblers that gamble using the internet, would differ from problem gamblers that do not.

Design; Cross-sectional study

Participants: 200 problem gamblers that were new referrals to the National Problem Gambling Clinic, London.

Measurements: We collected questionnaire measures of addiction severity and psychological morbidity including the PGSI, PHQ-9, GAD-7, IAT, UCLA-Scale, and LSNS-18. Participants were divided into three groups based upon whether they gambled online exclusively, partially, or not at all. We compared results in each of the questionnaire scores between the three groups using standard statistical difference tests.

Findings and Conclusion: We will present the preliminary results of our study at the conference. The results provide comparisons between two behavioural addictions that have unclear diagnostic boundaries, helping to inform the debate on their classification with much-needed data on what distinguishes them from the other, in one subgroup of the clinical population.


Dr Marcus PJ Tan (Academic Clinical Fellow in Psychiatry)1,2 Drs Neil Smith, Andrew Bayston and Cindy Caraguel (clinical psychologists)2 Sophie Gaucheron Ward (medical student)2 Dr Henrietta Bowden-Jones (project supervisor)2 Affiliations Key: 1:

Conflicts of interest:

No conflict of interest.

Dr Marcus Tan