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Capstone Committee Chair:

Dr. Kash, Thomas Jefferson University

Capstone Committee Preceptors:

Dr. Yuen and Dr. Crawford


When people gamble they are putting something they value at risk. The purpose of this Capstone project was to examine the relationships between public health and problem gambling in the five-county Philadelphia area. A secondary data analysis was conducted using the Public Health Management Corporation’s Community Health Data Base, specifically the 2010 Southeastern Pennsylvania Household Health Survey. In 2010, three gambling-related variables were added to the biannual telephone survey for the first time: ever bet money, ever felt the need to bet more and more money, and ever had to lie about how much gambled. Socio-demographic subgroups, health status indicators, and co-occurring mental health disorders were identified for communities at greatest risk for problem gambling. This data was used to conduct a needs assessment by discussing relationships between public health and problem gambling, specific to the five-county Philadelphia area, via an epidemiological approach. Problem gambling was found to be higher among individuals with lower socioeconomic status, those that lived in closer proximity to a casino, and had poor health. Problem gamblers were found to be: either Native American or Other race, residents of Philadelphia County, had a low SES, were in poor health, had a diagnosed mental health condition, and once had an alcohol or drug problem. Looking at gambling from a public health perspective it appears that people are not just putting their money at risk, but potentially other things they value as well, such as their physical and mental health. As additional casinos open, this project will offer baseline data in order to determine the extent of problem gambling in the five-county Philadelphia area and the prevention programs and the public health education and awareness needed.

Presentation: 21 minutes