A study published Friday in AJP in Advance suggests that while Internet-based games among adults are popular, only a small proportion of gamers appear to meet the proposed criteria for Internet gaming disorder listed in DSM-5. While those who met the proposed criteria for Internet gaming disorder played video games more regularly than those who did not meet the criteria for the disorder, there were no differences between the groups in physical, social, and mental health outcomes, Andrew K. Przybylski, Ph.D., of the University of Oxford and colleagues reported.
These conclusions were drawn from an analysis of survey data responses from four cohorts totaling nearly 19,000 adults in the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, and Germany; two of the cohorts were exclusively young adults (aged 18 to 24) while the other two included adults of all ages. The surveys were designed to answer several questions, including what is the acute prevalence rate of the Internet gaming disorder and how does this prevalence compare with that for gambling disorder?
The researchers found that between 0.3% to 1.0% of the population might qualify for an acute diagnosis of Internet gaming disorder, though about two-thirds of active gamers do not report any diagnostic symptoms. The estimated prevalence of acute gambling disorder in the same cohort was between 1.0% to 2.6%. “This provides tentative evidence that despite being a new and popular activity, Internet-based games might be less dysregulating than gambling,” the authors wrote.
The authors continued, “If one extrapolates from our data, upwards of 160 million American adults play Internet-based games, and as many as one million of these individuals might meet the proposed DSM-5 criteria for addiction to online games. This represents a large cohort of people struggling with what could be clinically dysregulated behavior. However, because we did not find evidence supporting a clear link to clinical outcomes, more evidence for clinical and behavioral effects is needed before concluding that this is a legitimate candidate for inclusion in future revisions of the DSM.”
For related information, see “Can Medications Help People With Gambling Disorder?” by Grace Hennessy, M.D., the director of the Substance Abuse Recovery Program at the Department of Veterans Affairs at New York Harbor Heath Care System.