A1 Journal article (refereed)
Gambling and gaming during COVID-19 : The role of mental health and social motives in gambling and gaming problems (2022)

Savolainen, I., Vuorinen, I., Sirola, A., & Oksanen, A. (2022). Gambling and gaming during COVID-19 : The role of mental health and social motives in gambling and gaming problems. Comprehensive Psychiatry, 117, Article 152331. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.comppsych.2022.152331

JYU authors or editors

Publication details

All authors or editors: Savolainen, Iina; Vuorinen, Ilkka; Sirola, Anu; Oksanen, Atte

Journal or series: Comprehensive Psychiatry

ISSN: 0010-440X

eISSN: 1532-8384

Publication year: 2022

Publication date: 12/06/2022

Volume: 117

Article number: 152331

Publisher: Elsevier

Publication country: Netherlands

Publication language: English

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.comppsych.2022.152331

Publication open access: Openly available

Publication channel open access: Open Access channel

Publication is parallel published (JYX): https://jyx.jyu.fi/handle/123456789/82104


The uncertain and stressful global situation caused by the COVID-19 pandemic has the potential to cause anxiety and impact people's mental health. Simultaneously, social distancing policies have isolated people from their normal social interactions. These societal changes have inevitably influenced gambling and gaming practices, and many people may have turned to betting or gaming as a means of social exchange. This study examined the influence of COVID-19 anxiety on increased mental health problems and their relationship to gambling and gaming problems. The mediating role of social motives for gambling and gaming was also investigated.

Material and methods
Finnish adults (N = 1530; Mage = 46.67; 50.33% male) were recruited from a volunteer participant pool to participate in a survey study. COVID-19 anxiety was assessed using a scale adapted from the Spielberger State–Trait Anxiety Inventory. Mental health problems were evaluated with the five-item Mental Health Inventory. Gambling problems were measured using the Problem Gambling Severity Index, and gaming problems were measured with the Internet Gaming Disorder Test. Social motives for gaming were evaluated using a single-item measure. Analyses used generalised structural equation modelling.

COVID-19 anxiety predicted increased mental health problems, which were associated with heightened gambling and gaming problems. Social motives for gambling and gaming were a significant mediator, suggesting that gambling and gaming problems are emphasized markedly among those who are socially motivated by and involved in such games.

Mental health problems experienced during the pandemic and the social properties of games might accentuate gambling and gaming problems.

Keywords: COVID-19; unusual conditions; mental health; mental health problems; anxiety; gambling games; online games; problem gambling

Free keywords: COVID-19 anxiety; Gambling problems; Gaming problems; Social motives

Contributing organizations

Ministry reporting: Yes

Reporting Year: 2022

JUFO rating: 1

Last updated on 2023-30-08 at 08:51