Social Phobia in an Italian region: do Italian studies show lower frequencies than community surveys conducted in other European countries?

Carta, Mauro Giovanni; Hardoy, Maria Carolina; Cadeddu, Mariangela; Carpiniello, Bernardo; Dell'Osso, Liliana; Reda, Mario Antonio; Wittchen, Hans-Ulrich
January 2004
BMC Psychiatry;2004, Vol. 4, p1
Academic Journal
Background: The lifetime prevalence of Social Phobia (SP) in European countries other than Italy has been estimated to range from 3.5% to 16.0%. The aim of this study was to assess the frequency of SP in Sardinia (Italy) in order to verify the evidence of a lower frequency of SP in Italy observed in previous studies (from 1.0% to 3.1%). Methods: A randomised cross sample of 1040 subjects, living in Cagliari, in rural areas, and in a mining district in Sardinia were interviewed using a Simplified version of the Composite International Diagnostic Interview (CIDIS). Diagnoses were made according to the 10th International Classification of Diseases (ICD-10). Results: Lifetime prevalence of SP was 2.2% (males: 1.5%, females: 2.8%) whereas 6-month prevalence resulted in 1.5% (males: 0.9%, females: 2.1%). Mean age at onset was 16.2 ± 9.3 years. A statistically significant association was found with Depressive Episode, Dysthymia and Generalized Anxiety Disorder. Conclusions: The study is consistent with findings reported in several previous studies of a lower prevalence of SP in Italy. Furthermore, the results confirm the fact that SP, due to its early onset, might constitute an ideal target for early treatment aimed at preventing both the accumulation of social disabilities and impairments caused by anxiety and avoidance behaviour, as well as the onset of more serious, associated complications in later stages of the illness.


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