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Psychol Med. 1999 Mar;29(2):309-23.

Social fears and social phobia in a community sample of adolescents and young adults: prevalence, risk factors and co-morbidity.

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  • 1Max Planck Institute of Psychiatry, Clinical Psychology and Epidemiology, Munich, Germany.



The paper describes prevalence, impairments, patterns of co-morbidity and other correlates of DSM-IV social phobia in adolescents and young adults, separating generalized and non-generalized social phobics.


Data are derived from the baseline investigation of the Early Developmental Stages of Psychopathology Study (EDSP), a prospective longitudinal community study of 3021 subjects, aged 14-24. Diagnoses were based on the DSM-IV algorithms of an expanded version of the Composite International Diagnostic Interview.


Lifetime prevalence of DSM-IV/CIDI social phobia was 9.5% in females and 4.9% in males, with about one-third being classified as generalized social phobics. Twelve-month prevalence was only slightly lower, indicating considerable persistence. Respondents with generalized social phobia reported an earlier age of onset, higher symptom persistence, more co-morbidity, more severe impairments, higher treatment rates and indicated more frequently a parental history of mental disorders than respondents with non-generalized social phobia.


History of DSM-IV social phobia was found to be quite prevalent in 14-24 year-olds. The generalized subtype of social phobia was found to have different correlates and to be considerably more persistent, impairing and co-morbid than non-generalized social phobia. Although generalized social phobics are more likely than non-generalized social phobics to receive mental health treatments, the treatment rate in this sample was low despite the fact that mental health services are free in Germany.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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