Subtyping social anxiety in youth
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Few empirical studies have examined subtypes of social anxiety disorder (SAD) in youth, and limited consensus resides on the nature of potential subtypes. Identifying subtypes, based on both fear and avoidance patterns, can help improve assessment and treatment of SAD.
Subtypes of fear and avoidance were examined in a sample comprising 131 youth (age 8–15 years) diagnosed with SAD using the Anxiety Disorders Interview Schedule for children and parents (ADIS-C/P). Exploratory factor analysis of fear responses revealed three factors, defining fear subtypes linked to: (1) performance, (2) observation, and (3) interaction situations, respectively. Exploratory factor analysis of avoidance responses showed these were best represented by one avoidance factor. Few youth qualified exclusively for either of the fear subtypes, thus calling into question the clinical utility of these subtypes. Nevertheless, the findings indicate distinct contributions of fear and avoidance in SAD presentation. This finding might help clinicians target and improve treatment of the disorder.