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Mult Scler. 2009 Mar;15(3):393-8. doi: 10.1177/1352458508099143. Epub 2008 Nov 21.

Social anxiety in a multiple sclerosis clinic population.

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Department of Psychiatry, Dalhousie University, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada.



Little is known about social anxiety in MS.


We estimated the prevalence of social anxiety symptoms and their association with demographic and clinical features in a clinic-attending sample of patients with MS.


Patients attending the Dalhousie MS Research Unit for regularly scheduled visits completed the Social Phobia Inventory (SPIN), the Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale (HADS), and the Health Utilities Index (HUI). Neurological disability was determined by ratings on the Expanded Disability Status Scale (EDSS).


A total of 251 patients completed self-report scales of anxiety and depression symptoms. In all, 245 (98%) provided sufficient data for analysis. In all, 30.6% (n=75) had clinically significant social anxiety symptoms as defined by a SPIN threshold score of 19. Half of those with social anxiety had general anxiety (HADSA>or=11) and a quarter had depression (HADSD>or=11). Severity of social anxiety symptoms was associated with reduced health-related quality of life and not related to neurological disability.


Social anxiety symptoms are common in persons with MS, contribute to overall morbidity, but are unrelated to the overall severity of neurologic disability. Greater awareness and routine systematic inquiry of social anxiety symptoms is an important component of comprehensive care for persons with MS.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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