Pathological gambling amongst Parkinson's disease and ALS patients in an online community (


  • Potential conflict of interest: Paul Wicks is a paid consultant for PatientsLikeMe and owns stock options in the company.


Pathological gambling (PG) has been identified in Parkinson's disease (PD), but such gambling behaviors may also occur in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). We sought to estimate the prevalence of PG amongst members of a web-based community, A survey was constructed, consisting of demographic information, the South Oaks Gambling Screen (SOGS), the K-6 measure of distress, and items related to motivation for gambling. Data were obtained from 236 ALS patients and 208 PD patients. Of the PD patients, 13% were classified as problem gamblers compared with 3% of ALS patients (χ2 = 14.005, P ≤ 0.001). PD patients reported thoughts about gambling to be more distressing, harder to resist and more outside their control than ALS patients. Thus, the higher prevalence of compulsive behavior in PD may relate to damaged reward pathways or medication rather than to the effects of living with a chronic progressive neurological disorder per se. © 2009 Movement Disorder Society