Clinical features of four DSM-IV-specific phobia subtypes

J Nerv Ment Dis. 2002 Jul;190(7):471-8. doi: 10.1097/00005053-200207000-00009.


Seventy-three patients (ages 18 to 66) with specific phobias from one of four DSM-IV subtypes (animal, situational, blood-injection-injury, and natural environment) were assessed by experienced clinicians using a semistructured diagnostic interview. All patients were free of lifetime anxiety comorbidity. Subtype groups were compared on age of onset, mode of onset, presence of unexpected panic attacks, and focus of fear. Consistent with earlier findings, participants with situational phobia had a later age of onset and more unexpected panic attacks. No differences were found across subtypes in mode of onset. Contrary to previous findings, natural environment and situational phobias were most frequently associated with a focus on danger or harm rather than other foci such as internal sensations associated with panic attacks. Implications for the usefulness of current subtype categories are discussed.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Multicenter Study
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Age of Onset
  • Aged
  • Anxiety Disorders / diagnosis
  • Anxiety Disorders / epidemiology
  • Anxiety Disorders / psychology
  • Comorbidity
  • Fear / psychology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • New York / epidemiology
  • New York City / epidemiology
  • Panic Disorder / classification
  • Panic Disorder / diagnosis
  • Panic Disorder / epidemiology
  • Phobic Disorders / classification*
  • Phobic Disorders / diagnosis*
  • Phobic Disorders / epidemiology
  • Psychiatric Status Rating Scales / statistics & numerical data
  • Research Design