Social anxiety in older adults: phenomenology, prevalence, and measurement.

Erla Gretarsdottir, Janet Woodruff-Borden, Suzanne Meeks, Colin A Depp

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Although phobias represent the most common anxiety disorders among the elderly, little is known about their social nature. The present study provides information about the prevalence, measurement, and phenomenology of social anxiety in older adults (n = 283) and compares results to those of younger adults (n = 318). Analyses revealed that social anxiety is less prevalent in old age than it is within younger cohorts and is associated with different symptomatology. The psychopathological profile of those who reach clinical levels of social anxiety is however similar, irrespective of age. Results regarding the psychometric properties of the SPAI when used for the elderly were promising, but the questionnaire appears to be difficult for some older adults to complete. Results are discussed in terms of explanations for age differences in social anxiety, initial psychometrics of the SPAI in an older adult sample, and suggestions for future research.
Original languageEnglish
JournalDefault journal
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2004

Other keywords

  • Social anxiety
  • Psychiatry
  • Older adults
  • Anxiety


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