Background and aims: Patients with schizophrenia are known to use potentially addictive psychoactive substances as self-medication and to ease psychological distress. Other potentially addictive behaviors such as online gaming are also used to self-medicate and ease psychological distress. However, the role of online gaming and problematic gaming (in the form of internet gaming disorder [IGD]) has not previously been investigated for patients with schizophrenia facing distress. Methods: One hundred and four participants diagnosed with schizophrenia were recruited and completed a number of psychometric scales including the Personal and Social Performance Scale (PSPS), Internet Gaming Disorder Scale-Short Form (IGDS-SF9), Self-Stigma Scale-Short (SSS-S), and Depression, Anxiety, Stress Scale (DASS-21). Results: The results showed significant negative associations between PSPS, IGDS-SF9, and DASS-21, and significant positive correlations between the IGDS-SF-9, SSS-S and DASS-21. Moreover, IGD did not mediate the association between self-stigma and depression. However, IGD significantly mediated the association between self-stigma and anxiety, and the association between self-stigma and stress. In addition, (i) age and self-stigma were significant predictors for IGD; (ii) social function and self-stigma were significant predictors for depression; (iii) social function, self-stigma, and IGD were significant predictors for anxiety; and (iv) self-stigma and IGD were significant predictors for stress. Conclusion: The findings suggest that online gaming may be a coping strategy for individuals with schizophrenia with psychological stress and self-stigma and that for some of these individuals, their gaming may be problematic.
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