Brief COPE

The items below are an abbreviated version of the COPE Inventory. We have used it in research with breast cancer patients, with a community sample recovering from Hurricane Andrew, and with other samples as well. The citation for the article reporting the development of the Brief COPE, which includes information about factor structure and internal reliability from the hurricane sample is below. The Brief COPE has also been translated into several other languages, which have been published separately by other researchers (see below).

We created the shorter item set partly because earlier patient samples became impatient at responding to the full instrument (both because of the length and redundancy of the full instrument and because of the overall time burden of the assessment protocol).  In choosing which items to retain for this version (which has only 2 items per scale), we were guided by strong loadings from previous factor analyses, and by item clarity and meaningfulness to the patients in a previous study.  In creating the reduced item set, we also "tuned" some of the scales somewhat (largely because some of the original scales had dual focuses) and omitted scales that had not appeared to be important among breast cancer patients.  In this way the positive reinterpretation and growth scale became positive reframing (no growth); focus on and venting of emotions became venting (focusing was too tied to the experiencing of the emotion, and we decided it was venting we were really interested in); mental disengagement became self-distraction (with a slight expansion of mentioned means of self-distraction).  We also added one scale that was not part of the original inventory--a 2-item measure of self-blame--because this response has been important in some earlier work.

You are welcome to use all scales of the Brief COPE, or to choose selected scales for use.  Feel free as well to adapt the language for whatever time scale you are interested in.

Citation:   Carver, C. S.  (1997).  You want to measure coping but your protocol’s too long:  Consider the Brief COPE. International Journal of Behavioral Medicine, 4, 92-100.  [abstract]

Following is the BRIEF COPE as we are now administering it, with the instructional orientation for a presurgery interview (the first time the COPE is given in this particular study).  Please feel free to adapt the instructions as needed for your application.

Scales are computed as follows (with no reversals of coding):

Self-distraction, items 1 and 19
Active coping, items 2 and 7
Denial, items 3 and 8
Substance use, items 4 and 11
Use of emotional support, items 5 and 15
Use of instrumental support, items 10 and 23
Behavioral disengagement, items 6 and 16
Venting, items 9 and 21
Positive reframing, items 12 and 17
Planning, items 14 and 25
Humor, items 18 and 28
Acceptance, items 20 and 24
Religion, items 22 and 27
Self-blame, items 13 and 26

I have had many questions about combining scales into "problem focused" and "emotion focused" aggregates, or into an "overall" coping index. I have never done that in my own use of the scales. There is no such thing as an "overall" score on this measure, and I recommend no particular way of generating a dominant coping style for a give person. Please do NOT write to me asking for instructions to for "adaptive" and "maladaptive" composites, because I do not have any such instructions. I generally look at each scale separately to see what its relation is to other variables. An alternative is to create second-order factors from among the scales (see the 1989 article) and using the factors as predictors. If you decide to do that, I recommend that you use your own data to determine the composition of the higher-order factors. Different samples exhibit different patterns of relations.

If you can not figure out from these instructions how to examine your data, please consult with your own statistical person rather than sending me questions.

If you are interested in a Spanish version of the Brief COPE.
If you are interested in a French version of the Brief COPE.
If you are interested in a German Version of the Brief COPE.
If you are interested in a Greek Version of the Brief COPE.
If you are interested in a Korean Version of the Brief COPE.


Brief COPE

These items deal with ways you've been coping with the stress in your life since you found out you were going to have to have this operation.  There are many ways to try to deal with problems.  These items ask what you've been doing to cope with this one.  Obviously, different people deal with things in different ways, but I'm interested in how you've tried to deal with it.  Each item says something about a particular way of coping.  I want to know to what extent you've been doing what the item says.  How much or how frequently.  Don't answer on the basis of whether it seems to be working or not—just whether or not you're doing it.  Use these response choices.  Try to rate each item separately in your mind from the others.  Make your answers as true FOR YOU as you can.

 1 = I haven't been doing this at all
 2 = I've been doing this a little bit
 3 = I've been doing this a medium amount
 4 = I've been doing this a lot

1.  I've been turning to work or other activities to take my mind off things.
2.  I've been concentrating my efforts on doing something about the situation I'm in.
3.  I've been saying to myself "this isn't real.".
4.  I've been using alcohol or other drugs to make myself feel better.
5.  I've been getting emotional support from others.
6.  I've been giving up trying to deal with it.
7.  I've been taking action to try to make the situation better.
8.  I've been refusing to believe that it has happened.
9.  I've been saying things to let my unpleasant feelings escape.
10.  I’ve been getting help and advice from other people.
11.  I've been using alcohol or other drugs to help me get through it.
12.  I've been trying to see it in a different light, to make it seem more positive.
13.  I’ve been criticizing myself.
14.  I've been trying to come up with a strategy about what to do.
15.  I've been getting comfort and understanding from someone.
16.  I've been giving up the attempt to cope.
17.  I've been looking for something good in what is happening.
18.  I've been making jokes about it.
19.  I've been doing something to think about it less, such as going to movies,
 watching TV, reading, daydreaming, sleeping, or shopping.
20.  I've been accepting the reality of the fact that it has happened.
21.  I've been expressing my negative feelings.
22.  I've been trying to find comfort in my religion or spiritual beliefs.
23.  I’ve been trying to get advice or help from other people about what to do.
24.  I've been learning to live with it.
25.  I've been thinking hard about what steps to take.
26.  I’ve been blaming myself for things that happened.
27.  I've been praying or meditating.
28.  I've been making fun of the situation.



Original version of the COPE

Measures Available