Symptom Accommodation Related to Social Anxiety Symptoms in Adults: Phenomenology, Correlates, and Impairment

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Abstract

Background and Objectives:

Socially anxious individuals often engage in various safety and avoidant behaviors to temporarily decrease distress. Similarly, friends or family members may engage in accommodating behaviors, commonly manifesting through the facilitation of avoidance, completion of tasks, or schedule modifications. Studies examining symptom accommodation in adult social anxiety are lacking, so this study seeks to better understand symptom accommodation and its consequent impairment in socially anxious adults.

Design and Methods:

There were 380 undergraduate students who completed a battery of self-report questionnaires through an online system. Constructs assessed include social anxiety, symptom accommodation, and impairment as well as related variables such as general anxiety, fear of negative evaluation, alcohol use, and anxiety sensitivity.

Results:

Symptom accommodation was positively correlated with social anxiety symptoms, functional impairment, general anxiety, anxiety sensitivity, fear of negative evaluation, and alcohol use. Individuals with considerable social anxiety reported significantly higher levels of symptom accommodation than individuals who reported lower levels of social anxiety. Anxiety sensitivity predicted symptom accommodation beyond the contribution of social anxiety. Symptom accommodation mediated the relationship between social anxiety and impairment.

Conclusions:

These data help elucidate the presentation and impact of symptom accommodation related to social anxiety. Implications for assessment, treatment, and future directions are presented.

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