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Stress, Health and Coping Resources of Chinese Pathological Gamblers’ Spouses

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Abstract

Excessive gambling negatively impacts the lives of gamblers’ spouses. This study investigated stressful life events, perceived stress, coping resources and health risks of 10 spouses recruited from two treatment facilities. In semi-structured interviews, the Social Readjustment Rating Scale identified life events encountered in the past year. The 12-item General Health Questionnaire assessed psychiatric impairment of the participants who also answered questions on physical symptoms and emotional problems. Open-ended questions gathered information on coping resources. The interviews were audio-taped and transcribed for thematic analysis. Replicating previous research results, the spouses disclosed marital, social, financial and vocational stresses related to gamblers’ disordered gambling. The majority utilized both formal and informal help, internal and external coping resources to deal with the adverse circumstances. Many reported significant symptoms of physical, emotional and mental health problems. Perceived stress, but not the number of negative life events, correlated significantly with physical and psychiatric symptoms. Only positive beliefs as a type of coping resources were inversely correlated with pathology. The study findings have implications for interventions and future research.

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Correspondence to Irene Lai Kuen Wong.

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Key words

  • Coping
  • Health Outcomes
  • Problem Gambling
  • Spouse
  • Stress