Randomised controlled trials (RCTs) that compared the effects of psychological treatments with control conditions in patients (aged at least 18 years) with social phobia, were eligible for inclusion. Only trials where social anxiety disorders were defined using the criteria of Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-III, DSM-III-R or DSM-IV) and scoring above a cut-off score on a self-rating or clinician-rated social anxiety disorder questionnaire, were considered.
The primary outcome measure was change in social anxiety score. Secondary outcomes included: cognitive, depression and general anxiety measures.
The majority of included trials compared psychological treatments to waiting-list controls. About half of the trials were conducted in the USA. Trial settings were varied and included community, clinical and mixed settings. The number of intervention sessions ranged from one to 20. The pre-post follow-up periods, where reported, ranged from one month to 18 months. Varied anxiety measurement scales were used. Full details were reported in the paper.
Psychological treatments considered included: cognitive behavioural therapy, cognitive therapy, social skills training, relaxation, exposure, symptom prescription with or without reframing, Lefkoe method and a combination of the treatments. The treatments were delivered in varied formats: individual, group and mixed formats. The majority of the trials evaluated DSM-III, DSM-III-R or DSM-IV anxiety disorders. Most participants were adults with varied ages.
The authors did not state how the studies were selected for review or how many reviewers performed the study selection.