Social anxiety disorder in primary care

Raz Gross, Mark Olfson, Marc J. Gameroff, Steven Shea, Adriana Feder, Rafael Lantigua, Milton Fuentes, Myrna M. Weissman

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37 Scopus citations


Objective: To examine the prevalence, comorbidity, disability and mental health treatment associated with social anxiety disorder (SAD) in primary care, and to determine whether patients with SAD avoid seeking help from their primary care providers. Design: We analyzed data from a health survey conducted on a systematic sample of patients. Data were then cross-linked to the practice's automated database in order to compare primary health care utilization by patients with SAD to that of patients with other psychiatric disorders and well controls. Setting: Urban primary care practice at a teaching hospital. Patients: A systematic sample (n=207) of primary care patients. Measurements and main results: Patients were interviewed by mental health professionals using the Composite International Diagnostic Interview. Lifetime prevalence of SAD was 5.7%. Substance use disorders were far more common among patients with SAD than patients with other psychiatric disorders (33.3% vs. 3.3%, P=.01). Social anxiety disorder patients were functionally impaired and made fewer primary care visits per year (mean 4.1) compared to patients with other psychiatric disorders (mean 6.9; P=.016) or well controls (mean 6.4; P=.031); 41.7% reported receiving mental health treatment in the past year. Conclusion: Patients with SAD made fewer primary care visits compared to patients with other psychiatric disorders and well controls. These results, together with the high prevalence of substance use in SAD, and the finding that less than one half received past year mental health treatment, suggest substantial unmet need for care and are especially important in view of available effective treatments for SAD.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)161-168
Number of pages8
JournalGeneral Hospital Psychiatry
Issue number3
StatePublished - May 2005


  • Health services utilization
  • Primary care
  • Social anxiety disorder


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