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To understand the interplay between anxiety symptoms and their maintaining psychological processes in the population, an analysis of longitudinal within-person relationships is required. A sample of 1706 individuals completed daily measures during a 40-day period with strict mitigation protocols. Data of 1368 individuals who completed at least 30 assessments were analyzed with the multilevel vector autoregressive (mlVAR) model. This model estimates a temporal, a contemporaneous, and a between-person network. Uncontrollability of worry, generalized worry, fear of being infected, fear of significant others being infected, and threat monitoring had the highest outstrength within the temporal network, indicating that daily fluctuations in these components were the most predictive of next-day fluctuations in other components. Of specific connections, both fear of self and fear of close others being infected predicted generalized worry and threat monitoring. In turn, generalized worry and threat monitoring engaged in several positive feedback loops with other anxiety symptoms and processes. Also, intolerance of uncertainty was predictive of other components. The findings align with the mechanisms both in the metacognitive therapy (MCT) model and in the intolerance of uncertainty model of generalized anxiety disorder (GAD).

Original publication




Journal article


J Anxiety Disord

Publication Date





Anxiety symptoms, COVID-19, Dynamic networks, Intolerance of uncertainty, Metacognitive processes, Population study, Humans, Pandemics, COVID-19, Anxiety, Anxiety Disorders, Fear, Uncertainty