Background: The assessment of social anxiety in late life has been examined in few studies (e.g. Gretarsdottir et al., 2004; Ciliberti et al., 2011). The present study describes the creation and initial psychometric evaluation of a new, content valid measure of social anxiety for older adults, the Older Adult Social-Evaluative Situations Questionnaire (OASES).
Methods: Psychometric properties of the OASES were evaluated in a community dwelling sample of older adults (N = 137; 70.8% female). Convergent validity was established by examining the relation between the OASES and the Liebowitz Social Anxiety Scale (LSAS), Social Phobia and Anxiety Inventory (SPAI), and Beck Anxiety Inventory (BAI). Discriminant validity was established by examining the relation between the OASES and measures of depression (Geriatric Depression Scale, GDS), perceived health status (Short Form Health Survey, SF-12), and demographic variables. The validity analyses of the OASES were based on a smaller sample with n values ranging from 98 to 137 depending on missing data on each questionnaire.
Results: Internal consistency, measured by Cronbach's α, for the OASES total score was 0.96. All items on the OASES were endorsed by participants. Convergent validity was demonstrated by medium to large correlations with the SPAI, LSAS, and BAI. Support for discriminant validity was evidenced by small to medium correlations between the OASES and GDS, SF-12, and demographic variables.
Conclusions: Evidence in support of convergent and discriminant validity of the OASES is discussed. Although the results from the present study suggest that this measure may assess anxiety in and avoidance of social situations salient to older adults, future studies are needed to further examine the psychometric properties of the OASES and replicate these results in both clinical and more diverse samples of older adults.