Factor structure and psychometric properties of the Brief COPE in autistic older adolescents and adults

Published March 2021
Abstract
Autistic adults experience high levels of stress, which may negatively affect their mental health. However, research into coping with stress in this population is limited, with no coping measures specifically validated for use in the autistic population. Utilising data from two Australian longitudinal adult studies, exploratory factor analysis was conducted to determine the factor structure that best represented the use of coping strategies in a sample of autistic adults (N = 255) using the Brief COPE. Mental health and well-being measures were used to provide information on psychometric properties. To explore potential intricacies in factor structure that may be unique to autistic adults, a preliminary subjective comparison with a non-autistic adult sample (N = 165) was also conducted. A six-factor solution, with high internal reliabilities, best represented the use of coping strategies in the autistic adult sample. Good convergent and divergent validities for the conceptually relevant coping factors were also reported. Subjective comparisons raise the possibility of some similarities (e.g., support-seeking coping strategies) and differences (e.g., the use of self-distraction coping strategies) in factor structures between the autistic and non-autistic samples. This study provides an initial validation of the Brief COPE in autistic adults and supports its usefulness in assessing coping strategies in response to stress in this population. Findings also have potential implications for informing intervention services for autistic individuals, given the known relationships between the coping of stress and broader outcomes, such as mental health.
Citation
Muniandy, M., Richdale, A.L., Arnold, S.R.C., Trollor, J.N. & Lawson, L.P. (2021). Factor structure and psychometric properties of the Brief COPE in autistic older adolescents and adults. Research in Autism Spectrum Disorders, early online. doi: 10.1016/j.rasd.2021.101764

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