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Frequent Comorbidity and Predictors of Social Anxiety in Persons With Schizophrenia: A Retrospective Cohort Study

Alyson Gorun, BS; Kristina Cieslak, BS; Jill Harkavy-Friedman, PhD; Andrew Deptula, BA; Deborah Goetz, MA; Raymond Goetz, PhD; and Dolores Malaspina, MD, MSPH

Published: September 3, 2015

Article Abstract

Objective: To determine if symptoms of social anxiety are distinct from negative symptoms of schizophrenia.

Method: Fifty-three patients with schizophrenia or schizoaffective disorder (diagnosed per DSM-IV criteria) and 37 healthy controls were examined with the Liebowitz Social Anxiety Scale (LSAS) for social anxiety disorder and for the severity of social anxiety. The Positive and Negative Syndrome Scale (PANSS) and the Chapman scales for physical and social anhedonia were also administered. Data were collected from 2005 to 2010 from inpatient and outpatient research centers at the New York State Psychiatric Institute, New York.

Results: Social anxiety disorder was elevated more than 10-fold in schizophrenia patients than in controls (37.7% of patients vs 2.9% of controls, P .001). Social anxiety and social fear were unrelated to the PANSS with few exceptions. A family history of psychosis was also a significant independent predictor of social anxiety as measured by LSAS total (P = .004) and the social fear subscale (P = .007).

Conclusions: These data confirm social anxiety disorder as a prominent comorbid disorder in patients with schizophrenia. Future studies should focus on treatment trials of this phenomenon. Social anxiety cannot be explained by the negative symptomatology of the disease. This study suggests that a family history of psychosis is a significant predictor of social anxiety.

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