Patel, Anita, Knapp, Martin, Henderson, Juliet and Baldwin, David
The economic consequences of social phobia
Journal of Affective Disorders, 68, (2-3), . (doi:10.1016/S0165-0327(00)00323-2).
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Background.: social phobia has been under-recognised and under-treated in many countries. Little is known about its economic impact. This study aimed to identify the economic consequences of social phobia for individuals, health services and wider society.
Methods: secondary analysis of 1993–1994 Psychiatric Morbidity Survey data compared 63 people with social phobia and 8501 people without psychiatric morbidity.
Results: people with social phobia were less likely to be in the highest socio-economic group and had lower employment rates and household income compared to those with no psychiatric morbidity. They also had higher levels of drug dependency and use of prescribed oral medications. Although there were no differences in total health care costs, costs of GP contacts were significantly higher. Individuals with a comorbid psychiatric disorder made higher use of some health services than those without a comorbidity.
Limitations: analyses were performed post hoc on data collected for other purposes. The defining questions for social phobia have not been studied much before. The number of identified subjects is small and thus raises the possibility of type II errors. Larger numbers may have revealed even more differences from the psychiatrically well population. Data on treatment patterns of the psychiatrically well population were limited because the surveys focused on subjects with psychiatric morbidity.
Conclusions: the burden of social phobia on individuals, health services and the wider society could be reduced through improved rates of detection and appropriate treatment.
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