Category: Adult Anxiety

PS2- #A27 - Incremental Predictive Validity of Experiential Avoidance and Distress Tolerance Facets for Anxiety Disorder Symptoms

Friday, Nov 17
9:45 AM – 10:45 AM
Location: Indigo Ballroom CDGH, Level 2, Indigo Level

Keywords: Adult Anxiety | Experiential Avoidance | ACT (Acceptance & Commitment Therapy)

Distress Tolerance (DT), or the capacity to withstand negative emotional states and physical sensations, is a known risk factor for the development and maintenance of anxiety disorders. Researchers have proposed a five-factor model of DT, consisting of emotional distress tolerance, discomfort intolerance, intolerance of uncertainty, intolerance of ambiguity, and frustration tolerance (Zvolensky et al., 2010), with each factor demonstrating a unique pattern in the prediction of anxiety outcomes. A comprehensive review of the DT literature indicated that additional research is needed to examine the relation between DT and other potential transdiagnostic anxiety risk factors, with a particular focus on establishing the incremental predictive validity of DT relative to other factors. Experiential Avoidance (EA) is conceptualized as the unwillingness to remain in contact with aversive private events (e.g., emotions, sensations), and actions taken to modify aversive experiences or stimuli that provoke them (Hayes, Wilson, Gifford, Follette, & Strosahl, 1996).  EA is considered a pathological process in Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT), and measures of EA have been shown to predict various anxiety disorders (Chawla & Ostafin, 2007).  Although EA is conceptually related to distress tolerance, relatively little research has directly examined the relation between the two constructs, with some researchers suggesting that DT may be a specific type of experiential avoidant process (e.g., Hayes et al., 1999) whereas others suggest that DT may drive avoidant coping broadly, including experiential avoidance. The purpose of the present study was to contribute to the literature by examining the relation between the conjectured five factors of DT and EA, and the incremental predictive utility of EA and DT factors for anxiety disorder symptom measures. Participants consisted of 300 MTurk workers who completed a battery of anxiety risk factor and symptom measures. Bivariate correlations indicated that EA (AAQ-II scores) was significantly correlated with each of the five DT factors (r’s = .26 [DIS] - .66 [IUS]) as well as each of the anxiety symptom measures (r’s = .52 [PDSS] - .69 [SPIN]). Hierarchical multiple regression analyses revealed that AAQ scores predicted panic, generalized anxiety, obsessive-compulsive, and social anxiety scores above and beyond the contributions of the DT factor scores. DT factors exhibited variable predictive power, with IUS and FDS scores predicting social anxiety and obsessive compulsive symptoms and DTS and FDS scores predicting generalized anxiety symptoms. MSTAT scores also predicted social anxiety symptoms. With regard to panic symptoms, only AAQ scores predicted PDSS scores in the final model. Discomfort intolerance did not predict any of the anxiety outcomes, and only AAQ scores predicted all four of the anxiety symptom measures. These findings support the predicted association between EA and DT, and suggest that EA may be a particularly important factor to consider in DT models for anxiety disorders. The implications of these findings for the measurement and theoretical conceptualization of EA and DT will be discussed.

Joshua J. Broman-Fulks

Professor
Appalachian State University
Boone, North Carolina

Corey Kundert

Appalachian State University

Sarah White

Appalachian State University

Kelsey Thomas

Graduate Student
Appalachian State University
Boone, North Carolina

Kerry Kelso

Student
Appalachian State University
Boone, North Carolina

Esther Killius

Appalachian State University

Makayla Wood

Appalachian State University