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Br J Psychiatry. 2003 Apr;182:312-8.

Exposure therapy and sertraline in social phobia: I-year follow-up of a randomised controlled trial.

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  • 1Haukeland University Hospital, Bergen, Norway.



Maintenance of treatment effect is important for the choice of treatment for social phobia.


To examine the effect of exposure therapy and sertraline 28 weeks after cessation of medical treatment.


In this study 375 patients with social phobia were randomised to treatment with sertraline or placebo for 24 weeks, with or without the addition of exposure therapy. Fifty-two weeks after inclusion, 328 patients were evaluated by the same psychometric tests as at baseline and the end of treatment (24 weeks).


The exposure therapy group and the placebo group had a further improvement in scores on social phobia during follow-up: mean change in the Clinical Global Impression - Social Phobia overall severity score was 0.45 (95% CI 0.16-0.65, P < 0.01) for the exposure group, and 0.25 (95% CI 0.00-0.48, P < 0.05) for the placebo group. At week 52 the sertraline plus exposure group and the sertraline-alone group had a significant deterioration on the 36-item Short Form Health Survey compared with exposure alone.


Exposure therapy alone yielded a further improvement during follow-up, whereas exposure therapy combined with sertraline and sertraline alone showed a tendency towards deterioration after the completion of treatment.

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