Intolerance of Uncertainty as a Contributor to Fear and Avoidance Symptoms of Panic Attacks

R.N. Carleton, M.G. Fetzner, J.L. Hackl, Peter Mcevoy

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76 Citations (Scopus)


Panic disorder symptoms are persistent for 50-80% of cases even after treatment, resulting in experiences of disability and dissatisfaction in life. Previous research has focused on anxiety sensitivity (AS) and its dimensions as contributing to symptoms of panic disorder; however, recent research has suggested that intolerance of uncertainty (IU)-the tendency for a person to consider the possibility of a negative event occurring as threatening, irrespective of the actual probability of its occurrence-may also play a critical role. The current study was designed to assess the specific relationships between dimensions of IU (i.e. prospective IU and inhibitory IU) and the fear and avoidance symptoms associated with panic disorder. Participants included 122 community members (81% women) with a history of at least one panic attack who participated in a larger study on fear. Participants completed measures of AS, IU, and panic disorder symptoms. Correlation and regression analyses supported a significant and substantial relationship between AS, inhibitory IU, and panic disorder symptoms. Inhibitory IU accounted for relatively more variance in avoidance symptoms related to panic disorder than did the fears of physical sensations dimension of AS. As such, further investigation of the role of IU in panic disorder symptoms appears warranted. Comprehensive results, implications, and directions for future research are discussed. © 2013 Swedish Association for Behaviour Therapy.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)328-341
JournalCognitive Behaviour Therapy
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2013


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