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n African Journal of Psychiatry - Prevalence of common phobias and their socio-demographic correlates in children and adolescents in a traditional developing society : original
Objective: The aim of this study was to identify the most common phobias in children and adolescents and to determine the prevalence, age distribution, and socio-demographic correlates of phobias.
Method: This was a prospective cross-sectional study conducted at public and private schools from July 2009 to February 2009. The questionnaire included socio-demographic information, extra-curricular activities and hobbies, behaviour at home and various phobic fears and it was distributed among children aged 6 to 18 years. Psychiatrists determined the definitive diagnosis for various phobias by checking and screening their symptoms.
Results: Of the studied subjects, 44% were males and 56% were females. The overall prevalence of phobia in children and adolescents was 19.7%. Among children with phobia, females had higher rates of phobias (62.4% vs 37.6%) than males. Nearly half of total sufferers were in the 12-15 year age group (46.3%). Social phobia (12.7%) was the commonest phobia found followed by agoraphobia (8.6%). Secondary school children were highly afflicted with social phobia (14.9%), agoraphobia (11.7%) and specific phobia (9.6%), while preparatory students (8.3%) were more likely to have 'medical' phobia (fear of physical illness, medical tests and procedures). A significant difference was observed between the age groups in children with agoraphobia (p=0.002).
Conclusion: The overall prevalence of phobia in children and adolescents in Qatar was higher than rates found in other epidemiologic studies, with the most common phobias observed being social phobia, agoraphobia and specific phobia.
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