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J Psychopharmacol. 2007 Jan;21(1):102-11. Epub 2006 May 19.

The efficacy of selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors in adult social anxiety disorder: a meta-analysis of double-blind, placebo-controlled trials.

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Department of Psychology, Brigham Young University, Provo, UT 84602, USA.


Social anxiety disorder is associated with impairment in social and occupational functioning, significant personal distress and a possible economic burden, resulting in a reduction in quality of life. To understand better the efficacy of selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors in social anxiety disorder, randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trials were evaluated. Pubmed and PsychINFO electronic databases were searched for social anxiety disorder, social phobia, selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, citalopram, escitalopram, fluoxetine, fluvoxamine, paroxetine and sertraline. Fifteen published, randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trials of selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors in social anxiety disorder were identified. Design, subject number, drug and dose, trial length, rating instruments, and baseline and end point data were extracted and then verified independently by a second investigator. Effect sizes were calculated from mean changes in drug and placebo groups in the Liebowitz Social Anxiety Scale and the Sheehan Disability Scale, as well as from other scales where available. For the binary data of the Clinical Global Impression of Change scores, Theta log-odds ratios (the effect-size measure appropriate for binary data) were calculated from proportion changes. Effect sizes for the Liebowitz Social Anxiety Scale ranged from -0.029 to 1.214. Effect sizes for the Sheehan Disability Scale ranged from 0.203 to 0.480 for work, 0.237 to 0.786 for social function, and 0.118 to 0.445 for family function. The Theta log-odds ratios for Clinical Global Impression of Change scores ranged from 0.644 to 3.267. Consistent with previous studies, selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors appear more effective than placebo for social anxiety disorder, with improvement extending into social and occupational function.

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