Increased Demographic Representation in Randomized Control Trials for Gambling Disorder in the United States is Needed: a Systematic Review

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Participants in randomized control trials (RCTs) should be representative of those most likely to experience the disorder of focus, yet reviews of psychology research studies consistently find certain demographic groups are overrepresented at the price of others being unincluded. The present review aimed to characterize the demographic representation of US-based RCTs for gambling disorder and compare findings to the population of individuals most likely to experience the disorder. Thirteen US-based RCTs comprising a total of 2,343 participants were reviewed. We found that although gambling disorder is most prevalent among low SES racial minorities, RCTs are mostly conducted among populations who are white, employed, and have some level of college education. Demographic variables that are related to the likelihood of experiencing gambling disorder are not consistently reported, and there are many groups of individuals who experience gambling disorder that have been virtually left out of all treatment study samples to date. We conclude with recommendations for future gambling focused treatment studies, which are geared towards increasing the convergence between characteristics of participants in RCTs and those who experience gambling disorder in the United States.