Cultural correlates of social anxiety disorder in the Iranian population: A qualitative study

Document Type : Research Paper


1 Ph.D. student in psychology, Faculty of Education Sciences and Psychology, Ferdowsi University of Mashhad, Mashhad, Iran

2 Associate professor of clinical child and adolescent psychology, Faculty of Education Sciences and Psychology, Ferdowsi University of Mashhad, Mashhad, Iran

3 Professor of psychology, Faculty of Education Sciences and Psychology, Ferdowsi Univesity of Mashhad, Mashhad, Iran

4 Professor of psychiatry, Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences Research Center, Mashhad University of Medical Sciences, Mashhad, Iran


Introduction: This study aimed to investigate the cultural aspects of social anxiety and its clinical features in an Iranian population.
Materials and Methods: The sample of this study consisted of the clients of Mashhad counseling centers. Twenty clients who had received the Social Anxiety Disorder diagnosis by a psychiatrist, were selected via a purposeful sampling to participate in the interview. The interviews were conducted using the semi-structured DSM-5 cultural formulation interviews. The transcripts of the interviews were analyzed by content analysis method using a seven-step Colaizzi technique and the concepts and categories were extracted.
Results: The content analysis of the interviews resulted in the identification and extraction of one hundred and fifty concepts that were classified into seventeen components: emotional feature, cognitive feature, behavioral feature, anxiety somatization, interaction and communication deficit, function reduction, the perceived social desirability of lack of self-assertiveness, the perceived religious desirability of behavioral and speech constraint, lack of perceiving and receiving family support, lack of perceiving and receiving relatives and friends’ support, the impact of gender (being a girl) on the formation and continuation of anxiety, the causes of anxiety, applying ineffective coping strategies, ineffective encounter of family and friends with the treatment, ineffective individual encounter with the treatment, the influence of religious and spiritual resources, and the acceptance and the appropriate communication with the counselor and therapist.
Conclusion: Despite the similarity of the participants' social anxiety experiences with the theoretical models as well as the consistency of the syndromes with the DSM-5 criteria, the content differences were observed in the form of normative beliefs, supportive resources, coping strategies, and encounter with the therapeutic resources.


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