BACKGROUND This study explored the prevalence of social phobia (SP) in general health care, sociodemographic characteristics of patients with SP, the age at onset and severity of SP, its comorbidity with other psychiatric disorders, and the recognition by general practitioners.
METHOD The study was conducted in Paris as part of the WHO study on Psychological Problems in General Health Care. Among 2096 consecutive primary care patients, 405 were interviewed using the CIDI. DSM-III-R diagnoses, severity and disability were assessed.
RESULTS The one-month prevalence of SP is high (4.9) in primary care, although underdiagnosed by GPs. It has an early onset and leads to substantial disability. Patients with SP are at risk of developing further depression, alcoholism or suicidal behaviour.
CONCLUSION SP appears to be a true and frequently severe pathological condition. The awareness of GPs and the general population should be improved.