Social phobia symptoms: prevalence, sociodemographic correlates, and overlap with specific phobia symptoms

Iulian Iancu, Jennifer Levin, Haggai Hermesh, Pinhas Dannon, Amir Poreh, Yoram Ben-Yehuda, Zeev Kaplan, Sofi Marom, Moshe Kotler

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

29 Scopus citations

Abstract

Background: Social phobia (SP) is a highly prevalent disorder in Western countries, but is rather rare in Eastern societies. Prevalence rates range from 0.5% in Eastern samples up to 16% in Western studies. Its prevalence in Israel, an Asian state characterized by Western culture, has not yet been studied. The present study aimed to assess the prevalence of SP symptoms in a nonclinical sample of Israeli adolescents, to characterize sociodemographic correlates of SP symptoms and to evaluate comorbidity with specific phobia symptoms. Methods: Participants included 850 young soldiers from the Israel Defense Forces. Measures included the Liebowitz Social Anxiety Scale (LSAS; self-report version), a questionnaire on specific fears and phobias, and a sociodemographic questionnaire. Clinical and demographic correlates of SP were also examined. Results: Probable SP (LSAS ≥80) was present in 4.5% of the sample. Overall, SP symptoms were reported by a great percentage of the subjects, as displayed by the rather high mean LSAS scores (29; SD = 23.79) in this nonclinical sample. The following variables were accompanied by higher LSAS scores according to our regression model: inability to perform command activities, receiving psychotropic medication before army service, having less than two friends, shy family members, and treatment during military service. Subjects with probable SP had a rate of comorbidity with specific phobia symptoms of 44%. Conclusions: Our findings corroborate those from other studies in Western countries, both regarding the high prevalence of SP symptoms and its demographic and clinical correlates, as well as regarding the high overlap rate with specific phobia symptoms.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)399-405
Number of pages7
JournalComprehensive Psychiatry
Volume47
Issue number5
DOIs
StatePublished - 1 Sep 2006
Externally publishedYes

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