Adolescent Coping Orientation for Problem Experiences (A-COPE)

The A-COPE is a coping inventory designed to explore adolescent coping behaviors that result from the normal adolescent stress associated with trying to create a balance between being connected to and at the same time independent from one’s family.  The coping inventory identifies the behaviors adolescents find helpful in managing problems or difficult situations.  The A-COPE can be used as one single scale or broken into 12 sub-scales that reflect 12 different coping patterns: ventilating feelings (like yelling and blaming), seeking diversions (like sleeping or watching TV), developing self-reliance and optimism (like organizing his/her life), developing social support (like helping others solve their problems), solving family problems (like working through family rules), avoiding problems (like substance use or ignoring the problems), seeking spiritual support (like talking to clergy), investing in close friends (like boyfriends or girlfriends), seeking professional support (like getting help from a counselor), engaging in demanding activity (like strenuous physical activity or academically challenging activity), being humorous (like making a joke of the situation), and relaxing (like listening to music).

Programs designed to help youth better manage their life stressors may want to use this assessment at the beginning of their programs to determine the types of coping mechanisms the youth are currently using to manage the changes in their lives.  The tool will help program administrators determine in what areas youth need help developing positive coping mechanisms and mitigating negative coping mechanisms.  The tool can be used again at the end of the program to determine how the youth coping mechanisms have changed.  If programs are geared toward fostering certain coping mechanisms rather than the broad range of coping mechanisms, then it may only be appropriate to look at the before and after scores on specific subscales.


Administration Method
Number of Questions
Creator(s) of Tool
Original creators are: Dr. Hamilton McCubbin and Dr. Joan Patterson

If you have questions about the tool or how to use it appropriately, please contact:

Hamilton I. McCubbin Ph.D.
University of Hawaii at Manoa Myron B Thompson School of Social Work
1800 East-West Road
319a Henke Hall
Honolulu, HI 96822
Email: [email protected]
Ph:808- 808-286-1724
Fax: 808-9563878

Risk and Resilience from Childhood to Aging Project
Scoring / Benchmarking
For scoring information and additional background on the tool, you may purchase the CD-ROM (Family Measures: Stress, Coping and Resiliency by McCubbin, Thompson and McCubbin) available through:

University Book Store
Attn: Family Measures
711 State Street
Madison WI 53703
Email: [email protected]
Attn: Bob Kellough
608-257-9479 (fax)
$65.00 plus shipping* and handling (taxes required if in Wisconsin)

Alternatively, the questionnaire can be useful to program staff without official scoring documented in the CD Rom/book developed to accompany this assessment tool. Your own program logic model or program theory would indicate if an individual’s answers to particular questions demonstrate positive or negative change in the various behaviors tracked by the questionnaire. For example, you might administer the questionnaire to clients at the start of the program year or upon enrollment to establish a baseline. A review of responses to individual questions might provide an indication of where to concentrate activities or services for a particular individual or a group. At the end of the program period, you can have the individuals complete the assessment again to determine whether their behaviors or attitudes have changed in the expected direction. Staff can review these responses to determine if changes are needed in program delivery or the types of services offered.
Background / Quality
Cronbach’s Alpha for the subscales:
Ventilating Feelings .75
Seeking Diversions .75
Developing Self-reliance and Optimism .69
Developing social support .75
Solving family problems .71
Avoiding problems .71
Seeking spiritual support .72
Investing in close friends .76
Seeking professional support .50
Engaging in demanding activity .67
Being humorous .72
Relaxing .60
Is there a cost associated with this tool?
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