Background Intolerance of uncertainty (IU) has been implicated in the development and maintenance of worry and anxiety in adults and there is an increasing interest in the role that IU may play in anxiety and worry in children and adolescents. Method We conducted a systematic review and meta-analysis to summarize existing research on IU with regard to anxiety and worry in young people, and to provide a context for considering future directions in this area of research. The systematic review yielded 31 studies that investigated the association of IU with either anxiety or worry in children and adolescents. Results The meta-analysis showed that IU accounted for 36.00% of the variance in anxiety and 39.69% in worry. Due to the low number of studies and methodological factors, examination of potential moderators was limited; and of those we were able to examine, none were significant moderators of either association. Most studies relied on questionnaire measures of IU, anxiety, and worry; all studies except one were cross-sectional and the majority of the studies were with community samples. Limitations The inclusion of eligible studies was limited to studies published in English that focus on typically developing children. Conclusions There is a strong association between IU and both anxiety and worry in young people therefore IU may be a relevant construct to target in treatment. To extend the existing literature, future research should incorporate longitudinal and experimental designs, and include samples of young people who have a range of anxiety disorders.
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- Intolerance of Uncertainty