Researchers from the University of Minnesota School of Medicine’s Dept of Psychiatry sought to examine whether the gains found in a recent study of treatment of pathological gamblers with 6 sessions of imaginal desensitization plus motivational interviewing (IDMI) held up at 6-months post-treatment.

Sixty-eight individuals who met DSM-IV criteria for pathological gambling were randomly assigned to 6 sessions of IDMI or a 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.

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.

The investigators conclude that 6 sessions of IDMI resulted in statistically significant reductions in PG urges and behavior, which were largely maintained for 6 months.

Citation:  Grant JE, Donahue CB, Odlaug BL, Kim SW. A 6-month follow-up of imaginal desensitization plus motivational interviewing in the treatment of pathological gambling. Annals of Clinical Psychiatry. 2011 Feb; 23 (1): pages 3-10. [email protected]