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A 6-month follow-up of imaginal desensitization plus motivational interviewing in the treatment of pathological gambling

Jon Grant, JD, MD, MPH

Department of Psychiatry, University of Minnesota School of Medicine, Minneapolis, MN, USA

Christopher Donahue, PhD

Department of Psychiatry, University of Minnesota School of Medicine, Minneapolis, MN, USA

Brian Odlaug, BA

Department of Psychiatry, University of Minnesota School of Medicine, Minneapolis, MN, USA

Suck Won Kim, MD

Department of Psychiatry, University of Minnesota School of Medicine, Minneapolis, MN, USA

BACKGROUND: Pathological gambling (PG), a disabling disorder experienced by approximately 1% of adults, has few empirically validated treatments. A recent study demonstrated that 6 sessions of imaginal desensitization plus motivational interviewing (IDMI) was effective in achieving abstinence for a majority of individuals with PG. This study sought to examine whether those benefits were maintained 6 months post-treatment.

METHODS: Sixty-eight individuals who met DSM-IV criteria for PG were randomly assigned to 6 sessions of IDMI or Gamblers Anonymous (GA) referral over an 8-week period. Participants who failed to respond to GA were offered IDMI after the 8-week acute treatment period. All individuals who responded to IDMI were contacted after 6 months and assessed with measures of gambling severity and psychosocial functioning.

RESULTS: Forty-four participants completed 6 sessions of IDMI (25 initially assigned to IDMI and 19 to GA). Thirty-five of the 44 (79.5%) responded during acute treatment, and all 35 were available for a 6-month evaluation. All gambling severity scales maintained statistically significant gains from baseline, although some measures showed significant worsening compared with post-IDMI treatment.

CONCLUSIONS: Six sessions of IDMI resulted in statistically significant reductions in PG urges and behavior, which were largely maintained for 6 months.

KEYWORDS: cognitive-behavioral therapy, impulse control disorder, pathological gambling

ANNALS OF CLINICAL PSYCHIATRY 2011;23(1):3–10

CORRESPONDENCE: Jon E. Grant, JD, MD, MPH, Department of Psychiatry, University of Minnesota School of Medicine, 2450 Riverside Avenue, Minneapolis, MN 55454, USA, E-MAIL: grant045@umn.edu
Annals of Clinical Psychiatry ©2011 Quadrant HealthCom Inc.

 
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