Intolerance of uncertainty predicts analogue posttraumatic stress following adverse life events

Paul A. Boelen*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


BACKGROUND AND OBJECTIVES: There is evidence that intolerance of uncertainty (IU) is associated with elevated post-traumatic stress (PTS) symptoms. There is a scarcity of research examining whether IU is prospectively related to PTS following exposure to negative life events. Using data from a Dutch student-sample, we examined the degree to which IU predicts post-traumatic stress symptoms associated with negative stressful life events (analogue posttraumatic stress (PTS)).

DESIGN: This was a prospective survey-study.

METHODS: A group of 193 undergraduate students completed self-report measures of Inhibitory IU, Prospective IU, and anxiety sensitivity (at Time 1, T1). One year later (at T2), participants rated adverse life-events experienced between T1 and T2, and completed a questionnaire tapping PTS associated with the most distressing event experienced in this time-frame. We hypothesized that pre-event Inhibitory IU and—to a lesser extent—Prospective IU would predict analogue PTS, after covarying for anxiety sensitivity.

RESULTS: As predicted, pre-event Inhibitory IU predicted post-event analogue PTS, even when controlling for anxiety sensitivity. With respect to distinct analogue PTS clusters, Inhibitory IU predicted PTS avoidance and PTS hyperarousal, but was unrelated to PTS reexperiencing.

CONCLUSIONS: This study confirm that IU, particularly Inhibitory IU, may convey risk for elevated PTS following adverse life events.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)498-504
Number of pages7
JournalAnxiety, Stress and Coping
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 2019


  • Intolerance of uncertainty
  • negative life-events
  • PTSD
  • risk-factor


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