, Volume 43, Issue 3, pp 200-208
Date: 30 Nov 2007

Specific fears and phobias in the general population: Results from the Netherlands Mental Health Survey and Incidence Study (NEMESIS)

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To examine the prevalence rate, impairment, comorbidity, course of illness and determinants of eight specific phobia variants: animals (animal subtype); heights, water, storms (natural environment subtype); flying, enclosed spaces, being alone (situational subtype); and blood/injury (blood/injury subtype).


Data were obtained from the Netherlands Mental Health Survey and Incidence Study, a prospective study in the Dutch general population aged 18–65 (N = 7,076).


The most prevalent condition was specific phobia with a fear of heights (4.9%). On all parameters except duration, specific phobia with a fear of being alone emerged as the most severe condition. Phobias with fear of enclosed spaces and phobias with fear of blood showed a slightly greater likelihood of impairment, comorbidity and personality problems than phobias with fear of animals, heights, water or storms.


The situational and blood/injury phobia subtypes appear to be a more significant index for impairments and for comorbid psychiatric disorders than the animal and natural environment phobia subtypes.