Traumatic brain injuries and problem gambling in youth: Evidence from a population-based study of secondary students in Ontario, Canada Academic Article uri icon

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  • Traumatic brain injury (TBI) is characterized by a change in brain function after an external force or sudden movement to the head. TBI is associated with risk-taking, impulsivity, psychological distress, substance abuse, and violent crime. Previous studies have also linked problem gambling to TBI, but these studies have not controlled for possible confounding variables such as mental health problems and hazardous drinking which are also linked to TBI. This study examines the relationship between problem gambling and TBI among adolescents. Data were obtained from the 2011, 2013 and 2015 cycles of the OSDUHS, a biennial cross-sectional school-based study of children in grades 7 to 12 (N = 9,198). Logistic regression was used to estimate adjusted odds ratios (AOR) in controlled and uncontrolled analyses. Adjusting for sex and grade only, problem gambling was associated with a history of TBI (AOR = 2.8). This association remained significant after adjusting for hazardous drinking and suicidality (AOR = 2.0). In addition, problem gambling had a statistically significant relationship with being male (AOR = 4.7), hazardous drinking (AOR = 4.5), and suicidality (AOR = 3.1). This study provides further data to suggest a link between TBI and problem gambling. However, research is needed on the causal relationship between these variables and the potential implications for treatment and prevention.


  • Turner, Nigel E
  • Cook, Steven
  • Shi, Jing
  • Elton-Marshall, Tara
  • Hamilton, Hayley
  • Ilie, Gabriela
  • Wickens, Christine M
  • McDonald, André J
  • Trajtenberg, Nico
  • Cusimano, Michael D
  • Mann, Robert E

publication date

  • 2020