The psychometric properties of the COPE in selected occupations in South Africa
Bezuidenhout, Johannes Hendrik Coenraad
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Coping strategies represent the efforts, both behavioural and cognitive, that people invest in order to deal with stressful encounters. Coping is a basic component for developing adaptation and plays a major role in the relationship between the individual and the environment, especially as a moderating element between stress and sickness. Against this backdrop of the impact that the well-being of employees has on organisations, it is of the essence that organisations need to understand how their members cope with the demands which the organisation places on them. This understanding can assist organisations to evaluate the resources they make available to help employees to cope more positively with the demands placed upon them. The general objective of this study was to investigate the psychometric properties of the Coping Orientations to the Problems Experienced Questionnaire (COPE) within different occupational groups in South Africa, to examine the construct equivalence and to assess reliability. A swey design was used. Random samples (N = 3178) were taken from electricity supply personnel, nurses and police officials, and the COPE was administered. Descriptive statistics, exploratory factor analysis and multivariate analysis of variance (MANOVA) were used to analyse the data. Exploratory factor analysis, using principal axis factoring with varimax rotation, was conducted on 53 items of the COPE and revealed four interpretable factors (Factor 1 = Approach Coping; Factor 2 = Avoidance; Factor 3 = Seeking Support; and Factor 4 = Turn to Religion). Highly acceptable Tucker's phi coefficients were found for all the comparisons, and therefore, sufficient evidence for the construct equivalence of the COPE was demonstrated. Alpha coefficients, ranging from 0,85 to 0,92, were obtained. Statistically significant differences were found between the coping strategies employed within the different organisational, gender and language groups. Recommendations for future research were made.