Problem Gambling as a Response to Social and Occupational Stressors: Exploring a Moderation Model of Stress and Coping

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name




First Advisor

Ben C. Kuo


Behavioral psychology, Counseling psychology, Clinical psychology




The current study explored specific stressors (loneliness and job stress) and coping strategies (problem-focused, emotional approach, avoidance, and religious coping) as predictors of outcomes relevant to problem gambling (problem gambling symptoms, gambling behaviours, and depressive symptoms). A sample of 217 frequent gamblers was recruited (a) using online advertisements (i.e., on classified sites, search engines, and Facebook); (b) using paper advertisements posted at problem gambling treatment centres; and (c) through a university student participant pool. Participants completed an online survey, which included an online version of the Gambling Timeline Followback (G-TLFB; Weinstock, Whelan, & Meyers, 2004). Six multiple regression analyses were conducted to explore the main and interactive effects of stress and coping variables on outcomes in the context of Wills' stress-coping model of addictive behaviour (Wills & Hirky, 1996; Wills & Shiffman, 1985). Generally consistent with previous reports, loneliness, job stress, and avoidance coping predicted higher levels of the outcomes, whereas problem-focused coping with job stress predicted fewer problem gambling and depressive symptoms. Emotional approach coping (EAC) and religious coping were introduced to the problem gambling literature in this study. EAC predicted lower levels of the outcomes when used in response to job stress, and it attenuated the relationship between loneliness and problem gambling when used in response to loneliness. Meanwhile, among individuals who endorsed some positive religious coping with loneliness, higher levels of this variable predicted more depressive symptoms. Negative religious coping in response to loneliness or job stress generally predicted higher levels of all three outcome variables, although endorsement of some negative religious coping with loneliness attenuated the relationship between loneliness and depressive symptoms. These results suggest a number of promising avenues for future research, particularly regarding the implications of emotional approach and negative religious coping for problem gambling. The present study introduced new coping variables to the literature and built on previous findings of bivariate correlations between coping and problem gambling by exploring these relationships in a multivariate context.