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Encouraged by the positive relationship between joint laxity and panic anxiety, our objective in this study was to compare widespread cultural fears in subjects with and without joint hypermobility syndrome and to assess whether this relationship is sustained for common fears as well. A sample consisting of 1,305 subjects from a rural town were assessed for joint hypermobility syndrome using Beighton's criteria. We assessed fear intensity and frequency using a modified version of the Fear Survey Schedule (FSS-III). Intense fears, defined with a score of 3-4, were compared between hypermobile and nonhypermobile subjects. The analysis was carried out separately for men and women. Nonparametric analysis was applied throughout. Joint hypermobility syndrome was found in 19.9% (141) of women and 6.9% (41) of men. Concerning the fear survey, when we compared the groups with and without joint hypermobility, the mean total scores for both genders were significantly higher for the hypermobile group. When we analyzed each item individually, 43 out of the 44 most severe fears in women and 36 out of the 39 in men, scores were significantly higher in the hypermobile group. We found significant differences between subjects with and without joint hypermobility when assessing specific fears, reinforcing the hypothesis that intensity of fears is greater in subjects with joint hypermobility syndrome. These results show that the association of joint laxity and phobic anxiety is sustained for intense fears and might represent a susceptibility factor for these anxiety conditions. Depression and Anxiety 23:412-417, 2006. © 2006 Wiley-Liss, Inc.

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