Kräplin, A., Bühringer, G., Oosterlaan, J., Van den Brink, W., Goschke, T., Goudriaan, A.E.

Dimensions and disorder specificity of impulsivity in pathological gambling

2014

Addictive Behaviors, 39 (11),1646-1651

Impulsivity is a core characteristic of pathological gambling (PG), even though the underlying structure and disorder specificity is unclear. This study aimed to explore different dimensions of impulsivity in a clinical sample including PG. Furthermore, we aimed to test which alterations of the impulsivity-related dimensions are disorder specific for PG. Participants were individuals diagnosed with PG (n=51) and two groups also characterized by various impulsive behaviors: an alcohol dependence (AD; n=45) and a Gilles de la Tourette syndrome (GTS; n=49) group. A healthy control (HC; n=53) group was recruited as comparison group. A comprehensive assessment was used including impulsivity-related and antipodal parameters of the Stop Signal Task, Stroop Task, Tower of London Task, Card Playing Task, Iowa Gambling Task and the Barratt Impulsiveness Scale-11. Principal axis factor analysis revealed four impulsivity-related dimensions that were labeled 'self-reported impulsivity', 'prepotent response impulsivity', 'choice impulsivity' and 'motor impulsivity'. The PG group scored significantly higher on all four dimensions compared to the HC group. In contrast, the PG group did not differ on any of the dimensions from the AD or the GTS group, except for 'choice impulsivity' where the PG group exhibited higher factor scores compared to the GTS group. Altogether, PG is associated with generally heightened impulsivity profiles compared to a HC group, which may be further used for intervention strategies. However, heightened scores in the impulsivity dimensions are not disorder specific for PG. Further research on shared or different underlying mechanisms of these overlapping impulsivity impairments is necessary.

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