Disordered Gambling Prevalence: Methodological Innovations in a General Danish Population Survey

Glenn W. Harrison, Lasse J. Jessen, Morten Lau, Don Ross

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We study Danish adult gambling behavior with an emphasis on discovering patterns relevant to public health forecasting and economic welfare assessment of policy. Methodological innovations include measurement of formative in addition to reflective constructs, estimation of prospective risk for developing gambling disorder rather than risk of being falsely negatively diagnosed, analysis with attention to sample weights and correction for sample selection bias, estimation of the impact of trigger questions on prevalence estimates and sample characteristics, and distinguishing between total and marginal effects of risk-indicating factors. The most significant novelty in our design is that nobody was excluded on the basis of their response to a 'trigger' or 'gateway' question about previous gambling history. Our sample consists of 8405 adult Danes. We administered the Focal Adult Gambling Screen to all subjects and estimate prospective risk for disordered gambling. We find that 87.6% of the population is indicated for no detectable risk, 5.4% is indicated for early risk, 1.7% is indicated for intermediate risk, 2.6% is indicated for advanced risk, and 2.6% is indicated for disordered gambling. Correcting for sample weights and controlling for sample selection has a significant effect on prevalence rates. Although these estimates of the 'at risk' fraction of the population are significantly higher than conventionally reported, we infer a significant decrease in overall prevalence rates of detectable risk with these corrections, since gambling behavior is positively correlated with the decision to participate in gambling surveys. We also find that imposing a threshold gambling history leads to underestimation of the prevalence of gambling problems.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Gambling Studies
Issue number1
Pages (from-to)225-253
Number of pages29
Publication statusPublished - 2018


  • Denmark
  • DSM criteria
  • Formative and reflective constructs
  • Gambling disorder prevalence
  • Prevalence survey methodology

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