Purpose/objective: The ability to tolerate uncertainty about the future may be foundational to positive psychological adjustment. Conversely, intolerance of uncertainty (IU) has been shown to be a vulnerability factor for anxiety and depression. One stressor with a very high degree of uncertainty about the future is a new diagnosis of multiple sclerosis (MS). However, few psychological interventions in MS have directly targeted IU. Research Method/Design: Forty-eight participants with early MS and moderate levels of distress were randomized to receive either 6 sessions of a brief psychological intervention designed to improve the ability to tolerate uncertainty (n = 23) or treatment as usual (TAU; n = 25). Measures of mood, IU, and MS acceptance were administered at baseline and about 8 weeks later. Intervention effects were tested via linear regression controlling for baseline levels.
Results: Participants were primarily Caucasian (85%) women (73%) and had lived with an MS diagnosis for an average of 376.3 days. Groups did not differ at baseline on most demographic or outcome variables. The intervention was well-tolerated, and most participants (82.6%) completed all 6 sessions and reported benefit. Postintervention, those in the intervention group demonstrated lower levels of IU and more MS acceptance relative to the TAU group. There was no effect of the intervention on global anxiety. Decreases in IU were associated with increases in MS acceptance (r = -.63). Effect sizes for these changes were moderate.
Conclusions/implications: These pilot results demonstrate that IU is responsive to a brief psychological intervention, and improvement with IU is associated with positive psychological outcomes. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2019 APA, all rights reserved).