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Dysfunctional beliefs related to generalized anxiety disorder: a categorical versus dimensional approach

Faculty Advisor




generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), dysfunctional beliefs

Abstract (summary)

Previous research suggests that individuals with generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) hold maladaptive beliefs that predict the onset and maintenance of GAD. This study examined various dysfunctional beliefs related to GAD to see whether different beliefs would be associated with GAD symptoms when GAD was considered dimensionally versus categorically. A sample of undergraduate students who were pre-screened for a high degree of worry (N = 344) completed online self-report measures. These scales measured GAD symptoms, intolerance of uncertainty (IU), negative beliefs about worry (NBW), positive beliefs about worry, fear of depression and fear of anxiety, and cognitive avoidance. Participants were also classified as Probable GAD (n = 211) or Non-GAD (n = 133) based upon DSM-5 criteria. All dysfunctional beliefs correlated with GAD symptoms. Multiple regression analyses revealed that IU, NBW, and fear of depression were unique predictors of dimensional GAD symptom severity. Logistic regressions revealed that IU and NBW were unique predictors of being in the Probable GAD group. NBW was the strongest predictor of both GAD symptom severity and Probable GAD categorization. These findings support previous research suggesting that results show some variation depending on whether GAD is conceptualized dimensionally or categorically. Further, among dysfunctional beliefs that contribute to GAD, NBW is the strongest predictor of both dimensional symptom severity and endorsing the symptoms consistent with a DSM-5 diagnosis of GAD. Therefore, NBW should be a primary focus of GAD research and therapy.

Publication Information



Presented on May 8, 2021 at the Canadian Association of Cognitive and Behavioural Therapies (CACBT) 2021 Virtual Conference.

Item Type

Student Presentation




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