Life Satisfaction in Patients with Social Anxiety Disorder: Impact of Cognitive-Behavioral Group Therapy

Aba Delsignore, Steffi Weidt, Juliane Emmerich and Michael Rufer


Social anxiety disorder (SAD) affects 7–14% of the population at some point of life1–3 with an early onset often in the teens.4 Many studies have shown substantial impairment in different areas of life satisfaction in individuals with anxiety disorders (panic,5 post-traumatic stress disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder,6 and generalized anxiety) including social phobia.7 For example Safren et al

8 showed that patients with SAD had a significantly lower mean score in the Quality of Life Inventory (QOLI) than a general nonclinical adult sample. Significant impairment was also found on all measures of mental health of the Short Form Health Survey SF-36.9 Simon et al

10 reported decreased well-being among patients with SAD not only in the area of mental health but also in the social function of the SF-36. Further, they found no differences in the physical function and vitality compared to the general population but a significantly reduced impairment in physical function, physical role, and mental health compared to individuals with panic disorder (PD). According to their results, they assumed that highly impaired patients with SAD might be underrepresented in research and clinical samples because they avoid the social interaction associated with seeking treatment.


This study focused on life satisfaction among patients with social anxiety disorder (SAD) and examined factors associated with gains in life satisfaction following cognitive-behavioral group therapy (CBGT). A sample of 121 patients with social anxiety disorder undergoing cognitive-behavioral group therapy was assessed in terms of domain-specific life satisfaction (FLZ) and symptomatology at baseline, posttreatment and 3-month follow-up.

At baseline, patients showed decreased mean scores for life satisfaction especially in domains requiring social competence (friends, partnership, and family). Life satisfaction increased significantly in the course of CBGT and remained stable in the follow-up period. Symptom improvement was linked to life satisfaction gains during therapy. Men were more often singles and less satisfied with their partnership situation than women. Current partnership, employment, and no previous therapy experience were associated with higher life satisfaction at baseline.

However, only the partnership situation was a positive predictor of life satisfaction gains at follow-up. In conclusion, our results showed that life satisfaction could be improved with CBGT for SAD. Additional interventions may be necessary to increase the satisfaction of men with their partnership situation and to support single patients in the practice of social skills outside of the group.

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