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J Anxiety Disord. 2006;20(2):158-74.

A comparison of intolerance of uncertainty in analogue obsessive-compulsive disorder and generalized anxiety disorder.

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  • 1Adult Anxiety Clinic of Temple University, Temple University, 1701 North 13th Street, Weiss Hall, Philadelphia, PA 19122-6085, USA.


Intolerance of uncertainty has been defined as the unwillingness to tolerate the possibility that negative events may occur in the future, no matter how low the probability [Personality Individual Differences 17 (1994), 791-802]. Previous research suggests that intolerance of uncertainty may be more specific to worry and generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) than to other anxiety disorders [e.g., Dugas, M. J., Buhr, K., & Ladouceur, R. (2004). The role of intolerance of uncertainty in the etiology and maintenance of generalized anxiety disorder. In R. G. Heimberg, C. L. Turk, & D. S. Mennin (Eds.), Generalized anxiety disorder: Advances in research and practice (pp. 143-163). New York: Guilford Press]. However, Tolin et al. [J. Anxiety Disorders 17 (2003), 233-242] argued that intolerance of uncertainty may also play a central role in obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). Therefore, the current study compared intolerance of uncertainty in individuals with analogue GAD and/or OCD. Intolerance of uncertainty was strongly related to pathological worry, GAD symptoms, and OCD symptoms; however, neither worry nor GAD was found to be more strongly associated with intolerance of uncertainty than OCD. Further, individuals with analogue GAD or OCD reported more intolerance of uncertainty than controls, but they did not differ significantly from each other. These findings suggest that intolerance of uncertainty may be a central theme in a number of the anxiety disorders.

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