A double-blind placebo-controlled trial of paroxetine in the management of social phobia (social anxiety disorder) in South Africa

Stein D.J. ; Berk M. ; Els C. ; Emsley R.A. ; Gittelson L. ; Wilson D. ; Oakes R. ; Hunter B. (1999)

Article

The original publication is available at http://www.samj.org.za

Article

Background. Social phobia, also known as social anxiety disorder, is a highly prevalent disorder with significant morbidity. Patients with social phobia frequently develop co-morbid psychiatric disorders such as depression and substance abuse, and the disorder impacts significantly on social and occupational functioning. It has been suggested that the selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) are useful in the management of this disorder, but few controlled trials have been undertaken in this regard. There are also few data on the pharmacotherapy of social phobia in South Africa. Methods. A double-blind randomised placebo-controlled multi-site flexible-dose trial of paroxetine was undertaken over 12 weeks among patients with a primary diagnosis of social phobia. Primary response measures were the Global Improvement item on the Clinical Global Impression scale (CGI) and mean change from baseline in the patient-rated Liebowitz Social Anxiety Scale (LSAS) total score. Ninety-three patients participated at 9 South African sites; their data are reported here. Results. There was a significant drug effect on both the CGI Global Improvement score and the LSAS at 12 weeks. In addition, there was no significant difference in overall rate of adverse experiences between those on paroxetine and those on placebo. Conclusions. Paroxetine is both effective and safe in the acute treatment of social phobia. The findings here are consistent with those of previous controlled studies of the SSRIs as well as with previous work done in the USA on the use of paroxetine in the treatment of this disorder. Early diagnosis and treatment of social phobia should be encouraged. However, further research on long-term pharmacotherapy of social phobia is needed.

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