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Dimensional assessment of DSM-5 social anxiety symptoms among university students and its relationship with functional impairment

Authors Dell'Osso L, Abelli M, Pini S, Carlini M, Carpita B, Macchi E, Gorrasi F, Mengali F, Tognetti R, Massimetti G

Received 17 December 2013

Accepted for publication 21 March 2014

Published 16 July 2014 Volume 2014:10 Pages 1325—1332

DOI https://doi.org/10.2147/NDT.S59348

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Liliana Dell’Osso,1 Marianna Abelli,1 Stefano Pini,1 Marina Carlini,1 Barbara Carpita,1 Elisabetta Macchi,2 Federica Gorrasi,2 Francesco Mengali,1 Rosalba Tognetti,2 Gabriele Massimetti1

1Department of Clinical and Experimental Medicine, Section of Psychiatry, 2Prorectorate to Students Affairs and Right to Education, University of Pisa, Pisa, Italy

Abstract: Social anxiety disorder is a common condition often associated with severe impairment in educational career. The aim of this paper was to evaluate prevalence rates and correlates of mild, moderate, and severe forms of social anxiety spectrum in a large sample of university students. Overall, 717 university students were assessed with the Social Anxiety Spectrum Self-Report questionnaire. Using two cut-off scores, 61.4% of subjects were classified as low scorers, 10% as medium scorers, and 28.6% as high scorers. Both high and medium scorers reported fears related to social situations. Interpersonal sensitivity and specific phobias were more common among women with low scores. Childhood/adolescence social anxiety features were more common among males with medium scores. Behavioral inhibition was more common among males with high scores. Functional impairment was severe among high scorers and, to a lesser extent, among medium scorers. Social anxiety spectrum is largely represented among university students. Future studies should investigate whether sufferers of social phobia underachieve or end their professional objectives prematurely.

Keywords: social anxiety spectrum, behavioral inhibition, gender, subthreshold, self-rating, DSM-5

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