Validation of a coping scale in an African context
Van der Walt, Carelyn
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This research was aimed at compiling and validating a multi-dimensional coping measure that takes African-centred coping behaviour into consideration. A review of relevant literature revealed numerous previous studies on coping, the development of various coping models and studies on the relationship between coping and other variables. Only a few studies on the possible intercultural differences in coping behaviour, and more specifically studies focusing on the possibility of emic coping patterns in an African context, could however be found. Furthermore, studies that were done in an African context implemented scales that were developed from a Western perspective on coping, not incorporating coping strategies found to be more prevalent in more collectivistic Asian and African American populations. The need for a multi-dimensional coping measure for the South African context that was developed with both the Western and African conceptual frameworks in mind became apparent. Therefore, the aim of this study is to validate a multi-dimensional measure of coping, using an African sample of Setswana-speaking South Africans. The S-COPE (Stapelberg, 1999) and the ACSI (Utsey, Adam & Bolden, 2000) was administered to a sample of 274 Setswana-speaking participants in the pilot study. The S-COPE served as a measure representative of a traditional dichotomous view of clusters of coping strategies as either Problem- or Emotion-focused. The S-COPE entails an adapted version of the COPE (Carver et ah, 1989) that has been translated into Setswana. The ACSI (Utsey, Adams & Bolden, 2000) was administered to the same group of participants as it represents an African-centred view of coping that incorporates strategies developed from this perspective. It involves four sub-scales, named Cognitive/emotional debriefing; Spiritual-centred; Collective and Ritual-centred coping. The ACSI and the S-COPE were selected for this study on grounds of applicability, previously indicated reliability and the distinct conceptual frameworks from which they were developed. Based on the results from the pilot study, selected items from the ACSI and the S-COPE were combined into a single measure, called the N-COPE. Item selection was based on yielded standard deviations, correlations and final communality estimates of individual items. For purposes of validation, the N-COPE, together with a number of measures of psychological well-being were administered to another group of participants from the same community (N - 1050) in the main study. Reliability indices were determined for the N-COPE, yielding a Cronbach alpha of .74 for the total scale, indicating that the N-COPE can be viewed as a measure of coping behaviour. No conclusions concerning the reliability of N-COPE sub-scales can be drawn from this value. As only selected items from both the ACSI and the S-COPE were used in the compilation of the N-COPE, complete sub-scales from these original measures are not represented in the N-COPE. Therefore, confirmatory factor analysis was not applicable and an exploratory factor analysis was conducted. Results from the exploratory factor analysis showed the following six-factor model of the 3 5-item N-COPE: (1) Active problem solving with help from others (APO) (a = .74); (2) Spiritual and cultural rituals for solving the problem (SCR) (a = .73); (3) Participation in religious activities (PRA) (a = .35); (4) Acceptance (ACC) (a = .55); (5) Denial (DEN) (a = .42); and (6) Escape in social activities (ESA) (a = .44). Cronbach alpha reliabilities for the subscales varied from good to unsatisfactory (.73 - .35). Criterion-related validity of the N-COPE was determined by comparing it with other measures of psychological well-being. The extracted factors in the current study were largely similar to factors from relevant African American and Asian studies on coping, but also showed a number of apparent differences. Coping strategies in this African context proved to be biased towards secondary control efforts (changing one's individual experience of a situation, in stead of attempting to change existing realities) as means of coping, rather than a traditional Western perspective that views secondary control efforts as ineffective and detrimental to well-being. Secondly, distinct differences in the configuration of coping factors in this group of Africans were illustrated through their greater reliance on the employment of relational support, religion, and spirituality as successful coping strategies. Limitations of the study and suggestions for future research were discussed. It is concluded that the N-COPE in its current form is not completely valid to be utilized in an African context, but the measure holds promising possibilities with further refinement. Results of extracted factors revealed a different configuration than those previously indicated for both the S-COPE and the ACSI. To determine whether this different configuration of factors can be indicative of an emic pattern of coping behaviour in this Setswana-speaking group of Africans, subsequent studies where the N-COPE is administered to other groups of participants in the South African context needs to be conducted.
- Humanities