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Clinical Effects of Buspirone in Social Phobia: A Double-Blind Placebo-Controlled Study

J Clin Psychiatry 1997;58(4):164-168

Background: The results of open pilot studies suggest that the serotonin-1A (5-HT1A) receptor agonist buspirone might be effective in social phobia.

Method: In the present study, the efficacy of buspirone was investigated in patients with social phobia using a 12-week double-blind placebo-controlled design. Thirty social phobic patients (DSM-IV) were treated with either buspirone 30 mg daily or placebo. Efficacy of treatment was measured using the Social Phobia Scale (subscores anxiety and avoidance) and the Hamilton Rating Scale for Anxiety.

Results: Taking a reduction of 50% or more on the Social Phobia Scale as a criterion for clinically relevant improvement, only 1 patient on buspirone and 1 on placebo were classified as responder to treatment. A subjective and clinically relevant improvement was reported by 4 patients (27%) on buspirone and 2 patients (13%) on placebo. There were no statistically significant differences between buspirone and placebo on any of the outcome measures. Generally speaking, buspirone was well tolerated.

Conclusion: The results of the study do not support the results of open studies, in which a reduction of social anxiety and social avoidance was reported in patients with social phobia treated with buspirone.