Validation of an adapted version of the Coping Orientations to Problems Experienced questionnaire (COPE) in the South African Police Service
Visser, Hester Antoinette
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Members of the SAPS come into contact with violent crimes on a daily basis. They also have to deal with changes on an organisational level, as well as large amounts of administrative work. The Coping Orientations to Problems Experienced Questionnaire (COPE) was completed by police members in the North West Province, and eight items focusing on emotion-focused coping were added. The objectives of this study were to assess the construct validity and internal consistency of the COPE in the SAPS, with added scales for emotional processing and emotional expression. Another objective was to conceptualise coping, and specifically coping within the policing context from the literature. Finally, analyses of the differences between the coping strategies of different demographic groups in the SAPS were conducted. A cross-sectional survey design was used. The study population (N=229) included samples of police personnel across the North West Province. In addition to the COPE, a biographical questionnaire compiled by the researcher, was administered. The dispositional version of the COPE was used, consisting of 53 items. Eight additional items which measure emotional processing and emotional expression were also used. Initial analysis revealed the COPE subscales to be unreliable. Subsequent analysis indicated that two coping mechanisms which reflected emotionality in broad terms were employed by SAPS members. These factors were termed Active Emotional Expression and Emotional Reappraisal, and showed acceptable Cronbach Alpha coefficients. Item bias analysis was conducted and two items indicated uniform bias, and another two non-uniform bias. Tucker's phi coefficients for Active Emotional Expression and Emotional Reappraisal were all acceptable, indicating equivalence for both the Afrikaans and "other" languages groups. With regard to the two coping factors, no significant differences were found between the created language categories, or gender. Differences between the coping strategies of police members with different ranks, marital states and salary categories were also not significant. Recommendations for the organisation and future research were made.