J Affect Disord 2015 Feb 2;172:38-42. Epub 2014 Oct 2.
School of Psychology and Clinical Language Sciences University of Reading, UK. Electronic address:
Background: Social communication deficits are prevalent amongst children with anxiety disorders; however whether they are over-represented specifically among children with Social Anxiety Disorder has not been examined. This study set out to examine social communication deficits among children with Social Anxiety Disorder in comparison to children with other forms of anxiety disorder.
Methods: Parents of 404 children with a diagnosed anxiety disorder completed the Social Communication Questionnaire (SCQ; Rutter, M., Bailey, A., Lord, C., 2003. The Social Communication Questionnaire - Manual. Western Psychological Services, Los Angeles, CA). Children with a diagnosis of Social Anxiety Disorder (n=262) and anxious children without Social Anxiety Disorder (n=142) were compared on SCQ total and subscale scores and the frequency of participants scoring above clinical cut-offs.
Results: Children with Social Anxiety Disorder scored significantly higher than anxious children without Social Anxiety Disorder on the SCQ total (t(352)=4.85, p<.001, d=.55, r=.27), Reciprocal Social Interaction (t(351)=4.73, p<.001, d=.55, r=.27), communication (t(344)=3.62, p<.001, d=.43, r=.21) and repetitive, restrictive and stereotyped behaviors subscales (t(353)=3.15, p=.002, d=.37, r=.18). Furthermore, children with Social Anxiety Disorder were three times more likely to score above clinical cut-offs.
Limitations: The participants were a relatively affluent group of predominantly non-minority status. The social communication difficulties measure relied on parental report which could be influenced by extraneous factors.
Conclusions: Treatments for Social Anxiety Disorder may benefit from a specific focus on developing social communication skills. Future research using objective assessments of underlying social communication skills is required.