Prevalence and Characterization of Specific Phobia Disorder in People over 65 Years Old in a Madrid Community Sample (Spain) and its Relationship to Quality of Life

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The prevalence of anxiety disorders over the last year among seniors ranged from 3.6% to 17.2%. The most prevalent disorders are specific phobias. Data are needed concerning the consequences of specific phobia disorder on the level of functioning and quality of life of older people, the age of onset of specific phobia disorder, and the duration of episodes. In total, 555 community-dwelling people aged between 65 and 84 years who lived in Madrid (Spain) were assessed (Composite International Diagnostic Interview for people over 65 years (CIDI65+), WHO Disability Assessment Schedule (WHODAS II), Health of the Nation Outcome Scales for Older Adults (HoNOS65+), World Health Organization Quality of Life Brief (WHOQOL-BREF). Prevalence rates and odds ratio, t-tests, binary logistic regression, and point-biserial correlations were calculated. A total of 12.07% of the sample suffered a specific phobia disorder over the last year. The average age at onset of the specific phobia was 38.78 (sd = 21.61) years. The mean duration of the phobia was approximately 20 (sd = 20) years. A significant effect of the specific phobia was found for the current levels of functioning and quality of life: WHOQOL-BREF total score (p < 0.05), WHODAS II overall score (p < 0.01), and HoNOS65+ total score (p < 0.001). Having specific phobia disorder decreased the level of functioning and negatively affected the quality of life. These data suggest the need for primary healthcare professionals to include the detection of specific phobia disorders in their protocols because people do not receive treatment for this problem, and they might carry it throughout their lives.