Journal Article
Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
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Functional impairment in social phobia.

BACKGROUND: This study examined the nature of impairment of functioning in persons with social phobia and assessed the validity of two new rating scales for describing impairment in social phobia.

METHOD: In 32 patients with social phobia and 14 normal control subjects, impairment was assessed using the Disability Profile and the Liebowitz Self-Rated Disability Scale, new instruments designed to provide clinician- and patient-rated descriptive measures of current and lifetime functional impairment related to emotional problems. Validity of the new scales was assessed by measuring internal consistency, comparing scores for patients and controls, and comparing scores with those on standard measures of disability, social phobia symptoms, and social support.

RESULTS: More than half of all social phobic patients reported at least moderate impairment at some time in their lives, due to social anxiety and avoidance, in areas of education, employment, family relationships, marriage/romantic relationships, friendships/social network, and other interests. Social phobic patients were rated more impaired than normal controls on nearly all items on both measures. Both scales were internally consistent, with Cronbach's alpha coefficients for lifetime and current disability subscales in the range of .87 to .92. Significant positive correlations of scores on the new scales with scores on coadministered standard scales of social phobia symptoms and disability demonstrated concurrent validity. Disability was not significantly correlated with measures of social support.

CONCLUSION: Social phobia is associated with impairment in most areas of functioning, and the new scales appear useful in assessing functional impairment related to social phobia.

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