Applicability of the intolerance of uncertainty model to Generalized Anxiety Disorder symptoms in young people

Robert Watts, Jill Cossar, Nuno Ferreira


Background: Disorder-specific cognitive-behavioural conceptual models of anxiety disorders have informed psychological interventions with adults, but not with adolescents. This study aims to clarify the applicability of the intolerance of uncertainty model to generalized anxiety disorder symptoms in young people and the moderating influence of gender and age on these relationships.

Methods: Three hundred and twenty-six young people, aged 11 – 15 years, from three high schools in a semi-rural area in West Scotland, completed self-report measures relating to generalized anxiety disorder symptoms and cognitive variables of the intolerance of uncertainty model.

Results: Intolerance of uncertainty and negative problem orientation were found to be predictive of generalized anxiety disorder symptoms; positive beliefs about worry and cognitive avoidance were found to be less important in the prediction of generalized anxiety disorder symptoms. Gender only moderated the relationship between positive beliefs about worry and generalized anxiety disorder symptoms; age did not act as a moderator.

Conclusion: The model of intolerance of uncertainty seems to be helpful in understanding generalized anxiety in young people. Clinical considerations are discussed.


Intolerance of Uncertainty; Generalized Anxiety Disorder; young people; moderation; Clinical Psychology.

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