The NCRG’s Impact On The Field Of Research: 10,000 Citations And Counting

How does one measure the impact of research on a field of study and its implications on health care? The NCRG recently completed an analysis of its research grants to understand how the organization is helping to foster a better understanding of gambling disorders and responsible gaming. Publication in a peer-reviewed journal is one way to assess the quality of the research and measure impact on the field. Not only did the count of publications from NCRG-funded research surpass 200 articles, but an analysis using Google Scholar revealed that these publications have been cited more than 10,000 times in the scientific literature.

The following is a top 10 list of the most cited publications generated from NCRG-supported grants:

TitleDateJournalFirst AuthorCitationEstimating the prevalence of disordered gambling behavior in the United States and Canada: a research synthesis1999American Journal of Public HealthHoward J. Shaffer, Ph.D., C.A.S.930Functional imaging of neural responses to expectancy and experience of monetary gains and losses2001NeuronHans Breiter, M.D.872Developmental neurocircuitry of motivation in adolescence: a critical period of addiction vulnerability2003The American Journal of PsychiatryR. Andrew Chambers, M.D.591Beautiful faces have variable reward value: fMRI and behavioral evidence2001NeuronItzhak Aharon, Ph.D.496Reward deficiency syndrome: a biogenetic model for the diagnosis and treatment of impulsive, addictive, and compulsive behaviors2000Journal of Psychoactive DrugsKenneth Blum, Ph.D.411Cognitive and behavioral treatment of pathological gambling: a controlled study1997Journal of Consulting and Clinical PsychologyCaroline Sylvain, Ph.D.291Gambling and the health of the public: Adopting a public health perspective1999Journal of Gambling StudiesDavid Korn, M.D.265Double-blind naltrexone and placebo comparison study in the treatment of pathological gambling2001Biological PsychiatrySuck Won Kim, M.D.261Updating and refining prevalence estimates of disordered gambling behaviour in the United States and Canada2001Canadian Journal of Public HealthHoward J. Shaffer, Ph.D., C.A.S.224Gambling and related mental disorders: A public health analysis2002Annual Review of Public HealthHoward J. Shaffer, Ph.D., C.A.S.212

Another way to measure impact is to analyze the quality of journals in which NCRG-funded studies are published. Although peer-reviewed journals employ the same methods of independent review to ensure scientific quality, not all journals are equal in their impact. Impact Factor (IF) is calculated by counting the amount of citations a given journal has over a certain time period, and it is published on a yearly basis by Thomson Reuters.

The charts below show the 10 NCRG funded articles with the highest IF:

TitleDateJournalFirst AuthorImpact FactorPathological gambling2001The Journal of the American Medical AssociationMarc Potenza, M.D., Ph.D.17.569Decreased absolute amygdala volume in cocaine addicts2004NeuronNikos Makris, Ph.D.14.439Functional imaging of neural responses to expectancy and experience of monetary gains and losses2001NeuronHans Breiter, M.D.14.153Beautiful faces have variable reward value: fMRI and behavioral evidence2001NeuronItzhak Aharon, Ph.D.14.153Gambling urges in pathological gambling: a functional magnetic resonance imaging study2003Archives of General Psychiatry>Marc Potenza, M.D., Ph.D.10.519Doubts about double dissociations between short- and long-term memory2005Trends in Cognitive ScienceCharan Ranganath, Ph.D.9.155Medial orbitofrontal cortex gray matter is reduced in abstinent substance-dependent individuals2009Biological PsychiatryJody Tanabe, M.D.8.926Found in translation: understanding impulsivity and related constructs through integrative preclinical and clinical research2009Biological PsychiatryMarc Potenza, M.D., Ph.D.8.926Molecular heterosis as the explanation for the controversy about the effect of the DRD2 gene on dopamine D2 receptor density1999Molecular PsychiatryDavid Comings, M.D.7.942SNPs and polygenic disorders: a less gloomy view1999Molecular PsychiatryDavid Comings, M.D.7.942

The articles listed in the above charts tell a story that is about more than simply numbers. Many have had an impact on the foundation on which scientists approach gambling disorders. For example, before the Shaffer & Korn article (2001), few researchers conceptualized gambling as a public health issue. Now, it is commonplace in studies and at conference presentations to examine gambling from a public health perspective. In terms of treatment, the 1997 study of naltrexone by University of Minnesota researchers (Kim, Grant, Adson, & Shin, 2001) opened the door to numerous clinical trials of this drug by demonstrating its safety and effectiveness.

The second aspect of impact is what is known as the transition from science to practice or, as scientists would say, “from bench to bedside.” How do we translate research findings into therapeutic interventions for patients? Some researchers estimate that it takes 12 to 15 years for scientific research to trickle down to the grassroots level of health care. That is why the NCRG’s mission to educate and disseminate research findings is so vital.

Last year, more than 1,000 healthcare providers participated in the NCRG’s workshops, webinars and the annual conference. These educational programs were designed to connect clinicians with the latest research and provide them with tools in their practice. For example, Dr. Randy Stinchfield of the University of Minnesota led a workshop for alcohol and drug counselors on the various instruments used to assess pathological gambling as well as GAMTOMS, an NCRG-funded instrument for gauging treatment outcomes. A workshop on brief interventions by Dr. Matthew Martens of the University of Missouri – Columbia demonstrated that such interventions can be effective with all ages, especially for individuals otherwise resistant to getting help for their gambling problem.

The NCRG will continue to strive for major impact through its research grants program and educational offerings as we pursue the mission of increasing understanding of gambling disorders and finding effective treatment strategies.

For more information on the NCRG grants and educational programs,


Kim, S. W., Grant, J. E., Adson, D. E., & Shin, Y. C. (2001). Double-blind naltrexone and placebo comparison study in the treatment of pathological gambling.Biological Psychiatry,49(11), 914-21. doi:S0006322301010794 [pii]

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