Magazine article Clinical Psychiatry News

Tool Accurately Identifies 85% of Social Phobics

Magazine article Clinical Psychiatry News

Tool Accurately Identifies 85% of Social Phobics

Article excerpt

ATLANTA -- The Social Thoughts and Beliefs Scale, a new tool for assessing cognitions in social phobia, correctly classifies 85% of social phobics, Nancy Heiser reported at the annual conference of the Anxiety Disorders Association of America.

"The Social Thoughts and Beliefs Scale (STABS) is a reliable and valid tool for assessing maladaptive cognitions related to social phobia," said Ms. Heiser, a doctoral student at the University of Maryland, College Park. STABS was developed by colleagues at the University of Maryland and the Medical University of South Carolina, Columbia.

When administered to a sample of 230 patients, including 70 social phobics, 125 patients with other anxiety disorders, and 35 normal controls, STABS had a test-retest reliability (based on a subset of 63 patients) of 0.93 and a Chronbach's alpha score of 0.97.

An analysis of variance verified that STABS, which is scored on a scale from 0 to 116, discriminates between social phobics, other anxiety disorder patients, and controls. Mean STABS scores for controls, other anxiety disorder patients, and social phobics were 22,38, and 70, respectively A cutoff score of 53 best predicts the presence of social phobia, Ms. Heiser reported.

The 29-item tool contains phrases such as: "Other people are more attractive than lam," "I am not good at making small talk," and "When I am with other people I am not good at standing up for myself." Subjects are asked to rate how typical the statements are of their thoughts experienced in social settings.

Researchers developed STABS by first assembling a 45-item tool using clinical experience, a review of the literature, and a review of similar social phobia scales. The 45-item version was administered to 107 psychologists who rated on a Likert scale how characteristic the items were of social phobia. The initial version of STABS was also administered to 47 persons with social phobia and 35 patients with other anxiety disorders, who similarly rated how representative the statements were of thoughts they had in social situations.

To remain in the final version of STABS, each item had to be endorsed by at least 50% of the clinicians and 50% of the social phobics, and the item had to distinguish patients with social phobia from those with other anxiety disorders. …

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