Social phobia in Brazilian university students: Prevalence, under-recognition and academic impairment in women
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BACKGROUND: Despite the fact that public speaking is a common academic activity and that social phobia has been associated with lower educational achievement and impaired academic performance, little research has examined the prevalence of social phobia in college students. The aim of this study was to evaluate the prevalence of social phobia in a large sample of Brazilian college students and to examine the academic impact of this disorder. METHODS: The Social Phobia Inventory (SPIN) and the MINI-SPIN, used as the indicator of social phobia in the screening phase, were applied to 2319 randomly selected students from two Brazilian universities. For the second phase (diagnostic confirmation), four psychiatrists and one clinical psychologist administered the SCID-IV to subjects with MINI-SPIN scores of 6 or higher. RESULTS: The prevalence of social phobia among the university students was 11.6%. Women with social phobia had significantly lower grades than those without the disorder. Fear of public speaking was the most common social fear. Only two of the 237 students with social phobia (0.8%) had previously received a diagnosis of social phobia and were under treatment. LIMITATIONS: Social phobia comorbidities were not evaluated in this study. The methods of assessment employed by the universities (written exams) may mask the presence of social phobia. This was not a population-based study, and thus the results are not generalizable to the entire population with social phobia. CONCLUSION: Preventive strategies are recommended to reduce the under-recognition and the adverse impact of social phobia on academic performance and overall quality of life of university students.
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