University of Oulu

Social phobia: aetiology, course and treatment with endoscopic sympathetic block (ESB) : a qualitative study of the development of social phobia and its meaning in people’s lives and a quantitative study of ESB as its treatment

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Author: Pohjavaara, Päivi1
Organizations: 1University of Oulu, Faculty of Medicine, Department of Psychiatry
Format: ebook
Version: published version
Access: open
Online Access: PDF Full Text (PDF, 0.9 MB)
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Language: English
Published: 2004
Publish Date: 2004-11-23
Thesis type: Doctoral Dissertation
Defence Note: Academic Dissertation to be presented with the assent of the Faculty of Medicine, University of Oulu, for public discussion in the Väinö Pääkkönen Hall of the Department of Psychiatry, on December 3rd, 2004, at 12 noon.
Reviewer: Professor Jukka Aaltonen
Professor Georg Bischof


The purpose of this study was to explore the development and course of social phobia by analysing qualitatively all the textual material obtained about the persons with treatment-resistant social phobia who, during the years 1995–2000, underwent a surgical procedure called endoscopic sympathetic block (ESB) to alleviate their phobic symptoms. In the other part of this study, the effect of this surgical procedure on social phobia was assessed quantitatively. The qualitative part of the study was based on the phenomenologic-existential philosophy and the principles of grounded theory.

The qualitative analysis revealed four kinds of parenthood in the families of socially phobic persons: a violent, alcoholic type, a dominant type with high demands, a negligent type and a good enough type. A “vicious circle of social phobia” was formulated as a substantial category.

The quantitative part of the study was an open, prospective follow-up study, where 169 patients operated on for social phobia during the years 1995–2000 were followed up for 5 years, and the changes in their symptoms were estimated using a modified version of Davidson’s brief social phobia scale and the Liebowitz quality of life scale. The quantitative and qualitative parts of the study were linked together by investigating each person’s family background with a semi-structured interview. According to variation analysis of the results, all symptoms of social phobia seemed to be alleviated highly significantly by ESB, and the results remained similar throughout the follow-up. Reflex sweating of the trunk was the only significant side effect. Overall satisfaction with the operation was estimated to be 3.5 on a five-point scale, representing the description “some help of the operation”. Thus, ESB can be regarded as an additional treatment method for social phobia if traditional treatment with medication and psychotherapy has not provided any help for the patient.

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Series: Acta Universitatis Ouluensis. D, Medica
ISSN-E: 1796-2234
ISBN: 951-42-7457-1
ISBN Print: 951-42-7456-3
Issue: 801
Copyright information: © University of Oulu, 2004. This publication is copyrighted. You may download, display and print it for your own personal use. Commercial use is prohibited.