Social support networks of Italian pathological gamblers: an exploratory study

Daria Panebianco, Ivo Colozzi, Carla Landuzzi


Prior research that has focused on the social context of gamblers and their interactions has demonstrated that social relationships, depending on their characteristics, can play a crucial role in gambling addiction as a risky or protective factor. Although gambling is recognized as a social activity, in Italy the research that has investigated the association of social networks with this phenomenon is limited. The present study provides a descriptive overview of the personal support networks of Italian pathological gamblers in order to identify the network features that may protect from gambling addiction. I measured ego-centered networks of 107 pathological gamblers in the region of Emilia Romagna and explored different characteristics of support networks (network composition and structural features, relational properties, types of resources mobilized) possibly related to gambling. The results show that the support networks were dense and homogenous in terms of gender and occupation, had a small size, alters with a low occupation status, and a high proportion of family members. The relations between network members were intense, the conveyed content mainly consisted of financial resources, symbolic support and company. The findings suggest the therapeutic interventions could possibly help clients to build and strengthen their support networks promoting their heterogeneity, the integration with different alters in the community, new and positive relationships.

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