The current study sought to understand better the psychological characteristics of socially anxious individuals who seek information on the internet about social anxiety disorder and its treatment. Participants were 434 individuals who responded to an internet-based survey linked to the website of an anxiety specialty clinic. Using established cut-off scores, 92% of the sample met criteria for social anxiety disorder. Internet survey respondents who met these criteria reported greater severity of and impairment due to social anxiety than a treatment-seeking sample of persons with social anxiety disorder. Nevertheless, only about one-third of these internet respondents reported having received psychotherapy, and a similar percentage reported having received pharmacotherapy. Those with the most severe social interaction anxiety and who spent the most time interacting on the internet endorsed positive effects of internet use. However, a significant number of negative effects also were endorsed. © 2003 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
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