Background. This article reports data on social phobia from the first large scale Australian epidemiological study. Prevalence rates, demographic correlates and co-morbidity in the sample that met criteria for social phobia are reported and gender differences examined.
Method. Data were obtained from a stratified sample of 10641 participants as part of the Australian National Survey of Mental Health and Well-Being (NSMHWB). A modified version of the Composite International Diagnostic Interview (CIDI) was used to determine the presence of social phobia, as well as other DSM-IV anxiety, affective and substance use disorders. The interview also screened for the presence of nine ICD-10 personality disorders, including anxious personality disorder, the equivalent of DSM-IV avoidant personality disorder (APD).
Results. The estimated 12 month prevalence of social phobia was 2·3%, lower than rates reported in several recent nationally representative epidemiological surveys and closer to those reported in the Epidemiological Catchment Area study (ECA) and other DSM-III studies. Considerable co-morbidity was identified. Data indicated that the co-morbidity with depression and alcohol abuse and dependence were generally subsequent to onset of social phobia and that the additional diagnosis of APD was associated with a greater burden of affective disorder. Social phobia most often preceded major depression, alcohol abuse and generalized anxiety disorder.
Conclusions. Social phobia is a highly prevalent, highly co-morbid disorder in the Australian community. Individuals with social phobia who also screen positively for APD appear to be at greater risk of co-morbidity with all surveyed disorders except alcohol abuse or dependence.
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