University of Washington

Department of Rehabilitation Medicine

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Intolerance of uncertainty in multiple sclerosis: shaping an agenda for future research


Alschuler KN, Beier ML



Publication Info:

International Journal of MS Care, 17(4):153-158


Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a chronic and progressive neurologic condition that, by its nature, carries uncertainty as a hallmark characteristic. Although all patients face uncertainty, there is variability in how individuals cope with its presence. In other populations, the concept of "intolerance of uncertainty" has been conceptualized to explain this variability such that individuals who have difficulty tolerating the possibility of future occurrences may engage in thoughts or behaviors by which they attempt to exert control over that possibility or lessen the uncertainty but may, as a result, experience worse outcomes, particularly in terms of psychological well-being. This topical review introduces MS-focused researchers, clinicians, and patients to intolerance of uncertainty, integrates the concept with what is already understood about coping with MS, and suggests future steps for conceptual, assessment, and treatment-focused research that may benefit from integrating intolerance of uncertainty as a central feature.

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