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Social phobia in Swedish adolescents: Prevalence and gender differences
Linköping University, Department of Clinical and Experimental Medicine, Oncology . Linköping University, Faculty of Health Sciences. Östergötlands Läns Landsting, Centre of Surgery and Oncology, Department of Oncology UHL.
Dept. of Behavioural, Social and Legal Sciences Örebro University.
Dept. of Psychology Uppsala University.
Dept. of Psychology Uppsala University.
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2009 (English)In: Social Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology, ISSN 0933-7954, Vol. 44, no 1, 1-7 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Background The aim of this study was to investigate the prevalence of self-reported social phobia in a community sample of Swedish adolescents in junior high school, at the risk-period for developing social phobia. Of particular interest was to investigate gender differences in prevalence across ages. Prevalence of sub-threshold social phobia was also studied. Methods Students in grades 6-8 (aged 12-14) from seventeen schools in five Swedish municipalities were screened by means of a self-report questionnaire, the social phobia screening questionnaire-for children (SPSQ-C). Results Data from a sample of 2,128 students were analysed and showed a point-prevalence rate of 4.4% (95% CI 3.5-5.2) and a significant gender difference (6.6% girls vs. 1.8% boys, P < 0.001). No significant differences in prevalence of probable cases emerged across the ages. At sub-threshold level, marked social fear of at least one social situation was reported by 13.8% of the total group. "Speaking in front of class and "calling someone unfamiliar on the phone were the most feared social situations. In the social phobia group, 91.4% reported impairment in the school-domain due to their social fear. Conclusion Social phobia is a common psychiatric condition in Swedish adolescents, especially in girls. As impairment in the school-domain is reported to a high degree, professionals and teachers need to recognize social phobia in adolescents so that help in overcoming the difficulties can be offered.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2009. Vol. 44, no 1, 1-7 p.
Keyword [en]
prevalence, social phobia, adolescents, gender
National Category
Medical and Health Sciences
URN: urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-18017DOI: 10.1007/s00127-008-0400-7OAI: diva2:214252
Available from: 2009-05-04 Created: 2009-05-04 Last updated: 2014-11-28
In thesis
1. Social Anxiety Disorder in Swedish Adolescents: Prevalence, Victimization & Development
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Social Anxiety Disorder in Swedish Adolescents: Prevalence, Victimization & Development
2010 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Human beings are social creatures. Accordingly, fear of social situations can be severely disabling. Social anxiety disorder (SAD) is characterized by excessive fear of negative evaluation in social or performance situations. SAD has an early onset and often goes undetected an untreated. Descriptive studies on non‐clinical samples are required in order to find ways to prevent SAD and associated consequences. This thesis aimed at examining epidemiological variables of SAD in adolescence which is the critical period for onset of SAD. More exactly, issues of detection and prevalence, victimization and developmental course were addressed.

Data was collected in four different community samples, using cross‐sectional and longitudinal designs. In the first study (n=169), psychometric evaluation of a screening questionnaire for use with adolescents was conducted. The second study (n=2128) investigated prevalence of SAD in students in grade 6‐8 (age 12‐14 years). In the third study (n=3211), the association between SAD and victimization in high‐school students (aged 17) was investigated. Finally, in the fourth study (n=350), longitudinal associations between social anxiety and depressive symptoms were investigated, with 4 waves of data from grade 7 to grade 11.

Self‐reported SAD was found among 4.4% of students in grade 6‐8 and among 10.6% of high‐school students. Females reported SAD to a significantly higher degree than males in all age groups. Experiences of peer victimization, maltreatment and sexual victimization were significantly more common in those reporting SAD than in non‐cases. Social anxiety was stable over adolescence. Further, peer victimization in grade 7 predicted social anxiety that mediated subsequent depressive symptoms. In conclusion, self‐reported SAD is common in Swedish adolescents and especially in girls and older adolescents. Social anxiety is stable over adolescence and correlated with depressive symptoms over course. The high prevalence rates, stable course and mediation of depressive symptoms call for early detection and prevention of social anxiety. The relationship between victimization and SAD needs to be investigated further in controlled prospective studies on children and adolescents.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Linköping: Linköping University Electronic Press, 2010. 78 p.
Linköping University Medical Dissertations, ISSN 0345-0082 ; 1185
Social anxiety disorder, adolescents, prevalence, victimization, peer victimization, developmental course
National Category
Medical and Health Sciences
urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-57938 (URN)978‐91‐7393‐388‐9 (ISBN)
Public defence
2010-05-21, Berzeliussalen, Universitetssjukhuset, Campus US, Linköpings universitet, Linköping, 09:00 (English)
Available from: 2010-07-09 Created: 2010-07-09 Last updated: 2010-07-09Bibliographically approved

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Green Landell, MalinAndersson, GerhardGöran Svedin, Carl
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Oncology Faculty of Health SciencesDepartment of Oncology UHLClinical and Social PsychologyFaculty of Arts and SciencesChild and Adolescent Psychiatry
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Social Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology
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