Increased knowledge of factors that predict treatment outcome is important for planning and individualizing of treatment. This study analysed predictors of response to individual cognitive therapy (ICT), and intensive (3-week) group cognitive treatment (IGCT) for social phobia.


Participants (n = 54) met diagnostic criteria for social phobia within a randomized controlled trial. Predictors assessed were fear of negative evaluation, anticipatory worry, self-directedness (SD) and cluster C personality disorder. Results were analysed by means of multiple regression analyses with both groups combined, and for each of the treatment groups.


Anticipatory worry, an aspect of a harm-avoidance personality trait, was the strongest negative predictor of outcome in ICT and IGCT both at post-treatment and 1-year follow-up. Whereas low SD, signs of cluster C personality disorder and fear of negative evaluation were negative predictors of post-treatment outcome in ICT, the corresponding pattern of results was not to be found in IGCT.


Anticipatory worry appears to be a particularly important trait for explaining variance in the outcome of social phobia. The finding is consistent with the assumed stability of such personality traits over time. Further studies are warranted to replicate the finding.

Practitioner Points

  • Anticipatory worry, an aspect of a harm-avoidance personality trait was a strong negative predictor of outcome in a randomized trial of ICT and IGCT.
  • The results imply that this area of processing needs to be more carefully attended to in treatment and possibly, specific techniques for dealing with rumination might be of specific relevance.