Social Phobia and Occupational Functioning
Beidel, Deborah C
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ABSTRACT Title of dissertation: SOCIAL PHOBIA AND OCCUPATIONAL FUNCTIONING Robin Yeganeh, Doctor of Philosophy, 2005 Dissertation directed by: Professor Deborah C. Beidel Department of Psychology Although there is substantial research on the psychopathology and social functioning of socially anxious adults, there has been little effort to study how this disorder impacts occupational functioning. The few studies that exist to date indicate that adults with social phobia have impaired occupational functioning due to their social fears. For example, 92.3% of one socially phobic sample reported some type of occupational impairment (Turner et al., 1986) and in another study, social fear affected attainment of employment and acceptance of job offers or job promotions (Stein et al., 2000). Objective: This study was designed to further elucidate the type of occupational impairment found among those with social phobia by conducting a comparison to a non-anxious control group. Method: Study participants were those who meet DSM-IV diagnostic criteria for a primary diagnosis of Social Phobia and work at least 20 hours a week. Semi-structured interviews were used to diagnose psychiatric disorders. In addition, self report measures and a daily work diary will be used to examine anxiety, satisfaction with work, and work behaviors. Results: Socially phobic patients were significantly less likely to initiate conversations and engage in interactions with coworkers. Likewise, they reported higher levels of anxiety than non-anxious controls during interactions. Their anxiety prevented their ability to communicate with coworkers, despite a desire to do so. They also report greater hardship in relationships at work in comparison to normal controls. Conclusions: Additional studies on the relationship between anxiety and work functioning are needed. Treatments developed to increase work functioning are warranted. The findings of this study have implications for organizational interventions aimed at increasing quality of work life and work related social functioning for employees with social anxiety.