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March 1995

Generalized Social Phobia: Reliability and Validity

Author Affiliations

From the Department of Psychiatry, Columbia University, College of Physicians and Surgeons, and the Anxiety Disorders Clinic, Department of Therapeutics, New York State Psychiatric Institute, New York, NY.

Arch Gen Psychiatry. 1995;52(3):230-237. doi:10.1001/archpsyc.1995.03950150062011

Objective:  To investigate the reliability and validity of DSM-III-R "generalized" social phobia by examining interrater agreement and comparing patients with generalized and "nongeneralized" social phobia on demographic characteristics, clinical variables, and familial social phobia.

Design:  Two senior clinicians classified 129 patients attending an anxiety clinic as having DSM-III-R social phobia that is generalized (fears most social situations) or nongeneralized (less than most) based on independent narrative review.

Results:  Good reliability was achieved (k=0.69). Patients with generalized social phobia were more often single, had earlier onsets of social phobia, had more interactional fears, and had higher rates of atypical depression and alcoholism. Familial social phobia was more common among patients with generalized social phobia than patients with nongeneralized social phobia and controls, with no difference between the latter two groups.

Conclusions:  Generalized social phobia (1) can be distinguished reliably from nongeneralized social phobia, (2) is a valid subtype, and (3) may characterize a familial form of the disorder.