Category: Transdiagnostic

PS6- #A12 - Intolerance of Uncertainty, Anxiety Sensitivity, and Distress Tolerance as Transdiagnostic Mechanisms for Interference and Distress

Friday, Nov 17
2:45 PM – 3:45 PM
Location: Indigo Ballroom CDGH, Level 2, Indigo Level

Keywords: Transdiagnostic | Adult Anxiety | Distress Tolerance

Given dissatisfaction associated with the categorical conceptualization of mental illness, some researchers have moved toward a dimensional system of classification to better characterize psychopathology (Insel et al., 2010). Multiple forms of anxiety pathology share in common an amplification of maladaptive emotions, cognitions and dysfunctional avoidance behavior and may be better conceptualized as manifestations of an overall Negative Affect Syndrome (NAS; Barlow, 2004). Transdiagnostic mechanisms should be explored with regard to functional impairment across expressions of anxiety, not solely symptoms associated with a specific disorder. Anxiety sensitivity (AS), intolerance of uncertainty (IU), and distress tolerance (DT) are other transdiagnostic mechanisms that have been implicated for anxiety-related problems. Despite research linking these mechanisms to anxiety psychopathology, little research has examined these associations beyond symptom levels (i.e. anxiety interference and severity) A sample of 609 undergraduates from a Midwestern university completed online questionnaires. Participants ranged in age from 17 to 36 years (M = 19.71 years, SD = 1.93 years) and women accounted for 68.5% of the sample. AS, IU, and DT each predicted unique variance in anxiety-related impairment (i.e. OASIS; Norman et al., 2006) (i.e. interference and severity), chi-square (48, N = 609) = 189.47, p 2 = .75. Higher AS, IU, and lower DT predicted higher anxiety severity and interference. Results from the present study support a paradigm shift in anxiety psychopathology by identifying the underlying mechanisms beyond the symptom level. For example, we measured anxiety specific impairment and severity (i.e. OASIS) as it represents a dimensional outcome across expressions of anxiety. The present findings have implications that support transdiagnostic treatments that further elucidate the structure of disorders toward shared features related to NAS. Although some transdiagnostic interventions targeting NAS resulted in alleviating co-morbid anxiety-related problems, including competing mechanisms such as AS, IU, and DT as treatment targets would strengthen outcomes. 

Vincenzo G. Roma

Doctoral Student
University of Nebraska -Lincoln
Lincoln, Nebraska

Debra A. Hope

University of Nebraska-Lincoln
Lincoln, Nebraska