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The contribution of cognitive behavioural factors to social anxiety in Parkinson’s disease

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  07 September 2021

Kirsty Nash*
Department of Psychology, University of Bath, Bath, UK
Leon Dysch
Clara Cross Centre, St Martins Hospital, Bath, UK
Jenna Todd Jones
Clara Cross Centre, St Martins Hospital, Bath, UK
Ruth MacQueen
Clara Cross Centre, St Martins Hospital, Bath, UK
Elizabeth Marks
Department of Psychology, University of Bath, Bath, UK
*Corresponding author. Email:



Social anxiety is prevalent in idiopathic Parkinson’s disease but why this is, is not yet well understood. Social cognitions, safety-seeking behaviours and internally focused attention are all known to predict social anxiety in the general population. These associated factors have not yet been explored in idiopathic Parkinson’s disease, where disease severity and motor symptoms might also influence the experience of social anxiety.


This study aimed to explore the relationship between cognitive behavioural factors and social anxiety in Parkinson’s disease.


Using a cross-sectional design, 124 people with Parkinson’s disease completed self-report questionnaires including measures of Parkinson’s disease severity, social anxiety, negative social cognitions, safety-seeking behaviours, internally focused attention, anxiety and depression.


The final regression model accounted for 71.6% of variance in social anxiety. Cognitive behavioural variables accounted for the largest magnitude of unique variance (43.5%). Sex, anxiety and depression accounted for 23.4%, and Parkinson non-motor symptom severity for 4.7%. Negative social cognitions and safety-seeking behaviours were statistically significant predictors, while an internal focus of attention was not.


Social anxiety in Parkinson’s disease is associated with negative social cognitions and safety-seeking behaviours. Findings indicate the need for further research into cognitive behavioural approaches to social anxiety in Parkinson’s disease.

© The Author(s), 2021. Published by Cambridge University Press on behalf of the British Association for Behavioural and Cognitive Psychotherapies

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