Pathways from uncertainty to anxiety: An evaluation of a hierarchical model of trait and disorder-specific intolerance of uncertainty on anxiety disorder symptoms
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Uncertainty is central to anxiety-related pathology and intolerance of uncertainty (IU) appears to be a transdiagnostic risk and maintaining factor. The aim of the present study was to evaluate a hierarchical model to identify the unique contributions of trait and disorder-specific IU (i.e., uncertainty specific to generalised anxiety disorder, social anxiety, obsessive compulsive disorder, and panic disorder) to disorder-specific symptoms, beyond other disorder-specific cognitive vulnerabilities (i.e., negative metacognitive beliefs, fear of negative evaluation, inflated responsibility, and agoraphobic cognitions, respectively). Participants (N = 506) completed a battery of online questionnaires. Structural equation modelling was used to evaluate model fit, as well as direct and indirect pathways. Trait and disorder-specific IU were significantly associated with multiple cognitive vulnerability factors and disorder symptoms. Indirect effects between trait IU and symptoms were observed through disorder-specific IU and cognitive vulnerabilities. The relative contribution of trait IU and disorder-specific IU to symptoms varied and theoretical and clinical implications are highlighted. Limitations include the cross-sectional design and reliance on self-report. Avenues for further research include a need for replication and extension of the model in different samples and using experimental and multi-method research methods.
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