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Am J Geriatr Psychiatry. 2009 Feb;17(2):127-35.

Prevalence of social phobia in non-demented elderly from a swedish population study.

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Department of Psychiatry and Neurochemistry, Institute of Neuroscience and Physiology, Sahlgrenska Academy, University of Gothenburg, Sweden.



To examine the prevalence of social phobia, and how the different Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition (DSM-IV) diagnostic components of social phobia influence prevalence rates, among a population sample aged 70 years and older.


A general population sample was investigated in 2000-2001 with semistructured psychiatric examinations, including the Comprehensive Psychopathological Rating Scale, the Mini International Neuropsychiatric Interview, the Global Assessment of Functioning (GAF) scale, and the Mini Mental State Examination.


General population Participants: Randomized sample of 914 nondemented elderly, response rate 68%. The sample was stratified into two age groups: 70-year olds (N = 338 women and 224 men) and aged 78 and above (N = 352 women).


Social phobia according to DSM-IV requiring: a) fearing social situations, b) experiencing the fear as unreasonable or excessive, c) avoiding feared social situations or enduring them with intense anxiety or distress, and d) that this causes social consequences.


The 1-month prevalence of social phobia was 1.9% (N = 17), an additional 1.6% (N = 15) fulfilled criteria a, c, and d, but not b. Thus, 3.5% had "social phobia" that caused social consequences. This was related to lower GAF-score and concurrent depression,panic attacks, and agoraphobia. Almost one fourth (N = 220) of the total sample feared social situations. This was more common in 70-year-old women compared with 70-year-old men (29.9% versus 20.5%), and to women aged 78-92 years (21.0%).


Our results indicate that DSM-IV criteria exclude a large group of individuals with social phobia. It could be discussed whether DSM-IV criteria should be revised to also encompass these individuals.

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