Friday, 14 January 2005 - 2:00 PM

This presentation is part of: Measuring Distress, Well-Being and Burden

The Brief COPE: Emerging Subscales Within a Popular Standardized Measure of Coping

Jodi M. Jacobson, PhD, Towson University.

Purpose: The Brief COPE scale (Carver, 1997) is a 28-item self-report measure of both adaptive and maladaptive coping skills. The Brief COPE was developed based on concepts of coping from Lazarus and Folkman (1984). The scale was designed to yield fourteen subscales, comprised of two items each. The scale’s developer does not advise a particular method for second-order factoring and suggests that researchers develop their own models for second-order factors based on data from individual research samples. The purpose of this study was to determine what factors may exist within the Brief COPE to aid in it usefulness as a standardized measure of coping and statistical analyses.

Method and Results: The Brief COPE was administered to 136 Employee Assistance Program (EAP) counselors randomly selected from the Employee Assistance Professional Association (EAPA) database. The selection criteria for completing this scale was that the EAP counselors had to report experiencing work-related stress resulting from working with traumatized individuals and groups in the past year. The Brief COPE was then administered to determine how the counselors coped with this type of work-related stress. Social workers represented 40% of the sample and the remainder of the sample was comprised of psychologists, marriage and family counselors, and other mental health professionals. A Principal Components Analysis (PCA) was performed to assess whether or not underlying factors existed that fit the data from the national sample. Results indicated that three subscales existed, which the researcher named Positive Coping, Passive Coping, and Negative Coping. Reliability for each subscale ranged from .75 to .82.

Implications: This study represents an exploratory study using a popular measure of coping. The constructs identified within the Brief COPE are useful in reducing the number of subscales from fourteen to three, making statistical analysis options more available to researchers. These sub-scales may be useful in future social work and EAP research, especially research on secondary traumatic stress, as the Brief COPE represents one of the only standardized, brief self-report measures to assess general adaptive and maladaptive coping skills.

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