Workplace phobia--a first explorative study on its relation to established anxiety disorders, sick leave, and work-directed treatment

Psychol Health Med. 2009 Oct;14(5):591-605. doi: 10.1080/13548500903207398.


Workplace phobia is defined as a phobic anxiety reaction with symptoms of panic occurring when thinking of or approaching the workplace. People suffering from workplace phobia regularly avoid confrontation with the workplace and are often on sick leave. The specific characteristics of workplace phobia are investigated empirically in comparison to established anxiety disorders. Two hundred thirty patients from an inpatient psychosomatic rehabilitation hospital were interviewed concerning workplace phobia and established anxiety disorders. Additionally, the patients filled in self-rating questionnaires on general and workplace phobic symptom load. Subjectively perceived degree of work load, sick leave, and therapy participation were assessed. Participants with workplace phobia reached significantly higher scores in workplace phobia self-rating than did participants with established anxiety disorders. A similar significant difference was not found concerning the general psychosomatic symptom load. Workplace phobics were more often on sick leave than patients with established anxiety disorders. Workplace phobia can occur as an alonestanding anxiety disorder. It has an own clinical value due to its specific consequences for work participation. Workplace phobia requires special therapeutic attention and treatment instead of purely 'sick leave' certification.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Germany / epidemiology
  • Humans
  • Interview, Psychological
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Occupational Exposure
  • Phobic Disorders / epidemiology*
  • Phobic Disorders / physiopathology
  • Phobic Disorders / therapy
  • Sick Leave*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Workplace / psychology*