Objective: Social anxiety is a frequent but often unrecognized feature in schizophrenia and is associated with a severe level of disability. To precisely define the assessment, impact, clinical correlates, and consequences of social anxiety in schizophrenia, the authors conducted a survey of schizophrenia patients and a comparison cohort of patients with social anxiety disorder. Method: A consecutively enrolled group of 80 outpatients with DSM-IV schizophrenia and a consecutive comparison group of 27 patients with social anxiety disorder were recruited from an institutional psychiatric practice and assessed with the Liebowitz Social Anxiety Scale, Scale for the Assessment of Negative Symptoms, Scale for the Assessment of Positive Symptoms, Social Adjustment Scale, and the Medical Outcomes Study 36-item Short-Form Health Survey. Results: Social anxiety scores of schizophrenia patients with comorbid social anxiety disorder (N=29, 36.3%) did not differ from those of subjects with social anxiety disorder as their primary diagnosis. Schizophrenia patients without social anxiety disorder had significantly lower total scores on the Liebowitz Social Anxiety Scale and lower social and performance anxiety subscale scores than did the other two groups. No differences in negative and positive symptom rates were found between schizophrenia patients with and without social anxiety disorder. Schizophrenia patients with social anxiety disorder had a higher lifetime rate of suicide attempts, greater lethality of suicide attempts, more past substance/alcohol abuse disorder, lower social adjustment, and lower overall quality of life. Conclusions: Social anxiety is a highly prevalent, disabling condition in outpatients with schizophrenia that is unrelated to clinical psychotic symptoms. The Liebowitz Social Anxiety Scale appeared adequate and reliable in assessing social anxiety disorder in patients with schizophrenia. If these data are confirmed, this study will make a contribution to the search for operational guidelines and adequate next-step treatments for social anxiety disorder in schizophrenia patients.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Psychiatry and Mental health