Stressful life events and gambling: The roles of coping and impulsivity among college students



Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date


Publication Title

Addictive Behaviors






Gambling, Gambling to cope, Impulsivity, Stressful life events


Substantial research has found a robust relationship between stressful life events and increased negative health outcomes and a greater predisposition to various forms of substance use and gambling behavior; however, less is known about the individual factors that explain this relationship. The present study examines the moderating factors of gambling to cope and individual impulsivity factors (e.g., perseverance, premeditation, and negative urgency) on the relationship between stressful life events over the past year and gambling problems among a sample of college students. Participants included 653 total students (48.57% female; M = 26.31 years old; SD = 8.35 years) enrolled in universities across the United States who scored three or higher on the South Oaks Gambling Screen, an indicator of risk for problematic gambling. We found a positive relationship between stressful life events and gambling problems. Gambling to cope moderated the link between stressful life events and gambling problems such that for those higher in gambling to cope, stressful life events had little impact on gambling problems while those at lower to moderate levels of gambling to cope saw a positive relationship between stressful life events and gambling problems. Moreover, we found two significant three-way interactions between stressful life events, gambling to cope, and impulsivity factors of perseverance and premeditation in predicting problems. These findings suggest that prevention and/or treatment strategies should consider how gambling to cope and impulsivity factors in conjunction with an individual's report of stressful life events relate to problematic gambling and associated consequences.

Open Access

Green Accepted