Psychological Vulnerability and Gambling in Later Life


Gambling, older adults, psychological well-being, self-determination theory


Objectives: Because behavioral problems often emerge from maladaptive coping methods, we investigated whether unmet basic psychological needs evolve toward a level of psychological vulnerability that puts older adults who gamble at risk for becoming problem gamblers. Methods: Data from a community sample of 379 adults ages 60 and above were analyzed using structural equation modeling. Participants responded to items regarding their demographics, gambling frequency, engagement in at-risk gambling behaviors, and the extent to which their basic psychological needs were met. Results: Satisfaction of basic psychological needs among older adults who gamble was negatively associated with their being at risk for developing a gambling problem. Satisfaction of basic psychological needs also mediated the negative effect of socioeconomic status on at-risk gambling behavior. Conclusion: Social workers should become mindful of how older adults, who are confronting psychological vulnerabilities in later life, might well turn to gambling as a maladaptive coping mechanism.As per journal style, abstract must not exceed100 words. Please amend accordingly.

Original Publication Citation

Dennis, C. B., Davis, T. D., Chang, J., & McAllister, C. (2017). Psychological vulnerability and gambling in later life. Journal of Gerontological Social Work, 60(6-7), 471-486.

Document Type

Peer-Reviewed Article

Publication Date


Permanent URL


Journal of Gerontological Social Work




Family, Home, and Social Sciences


Social Work

University Standing at Time of Publication

Assistant Professor