Social phobia among Saudi medical students

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Abstract

Background

Social phobia is one of the most common psychological illnesses worldwide. It is defined as persistent fear of one or more social situations when the person comes under focus.

Objectives

The aim of our study was to estimate the prevalence of social phobia among medical students in King Khalid University (KKU) (Abha, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia), and its severity in relation to sex, marital status, and academic level, and also to detect social phobia risk factors and to determine its negative impact on psychological health and academic performance of medical students in KKU.

Participants and methods

This prospective cross-sectional study was conducted using the social phobia scale by Raulin and Wee, which was validated and translated to Arabic version by Dr Majdi Aldessoqi. Data was collected from 380 medical students in KKU over 5 months during the academic year 2015–2016 and analyzed by using the SPSS program.

Results

This study showed that prevalence of social phobia among KKU medical students was 59.5% and was more common in males. Students with high social phobia scores were found to have decreased academic performance, avoided oral presentation, and showed weak clinical exam performance. Moreover, there were significant depressive symptoms among those students with high social phobia score.

Conclusion

The prevalence of social phobia among KKU medical students is high. Risk factors are modifiable. In this context, increasing the awareness about social phobia among medical students is crucial. Early detection and intervention is highly recommended to help them.

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