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Assessments of Coping After Acquired Brain Injury: A Systematic Review of Instrument Conceptualization, Feasibility, and Psychometric Properties

Gregório, Gisela Wolters PhD; Brands, Ingrid MD; Stapert, Sven PhD; Verhey, Frans R. MD; van Heugten, Caroline M. PhD

Journal of Head Trauma Rehabilitation: May/June 2014 - Volume 29 - Issue 3 - p E30–E42
doi: 10.1097/HTR.0b013e31828f93db
Original Articles

Objective: To identify measures of coping styles used by patients with acquired brain injury; to evaluate the conceptualization, feasibility, and psychometric properties of the instruments; and to provide guidance for researchers and clinicians in the choice of a suitable instrument.

Design: Systematic review.

Results: The search identified 47 instruments, of which 14 were selected. The instruments focused on dispositional coping, situation-specific coping, or domain-specific coping. Psychometric properties were scarcely investigated. The COPE stood out in terms of psychometric properties but had low feasibility. The brief COPE, Coping Scale for Adults-short form, and Utrecht Coping List stood out in terms of feasibility, and the available psychometric properties of these instruments were good. Only the Coping With Health Injuries and Problems was used as other report.

Conclusion: Information on psychometric properties of coping instruments in acquired brain injury is scarcely available and limits the strength of our recommendations. For patients with mild injuries, we cautiously recommend the COPE and for patients with more severe injuries the brief COPE, Coping Scale for Adults-short form, Utrecht Coping List, and Coping With Health Injuries and Problems-other-report. Other instruments may be used to address particular issues such as coping with a specific stressful situation or illness.

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Faculty of Health, Medicine, and Life Sciences, Department of Psychiatry and Neuropsychology (Drs Gregório, Verhey, and van Heugten), and Faculty of Psychology and Neuroscience, Department of Neuropsychology and Psychopharmacology (Drs Stapert and van Heugten), Maastricht University, Maastricht, the Netherlands; and Department of Neurorehabilitation, Rehabilitation Center Blixembosch, Eindhoven, the Netherlands (Dr Brands).

Corresponding Author: Caroline M. van Heugten, PhD, Department of Psychiatry and Neuropsychology, School for Mental Health and Neuroscience, Maastricht University, PO Box 616 (drt12), 6200 MD Maastricht, the Netherlands (

No external funding was received.

Supplemental digital content is available for this article. Direct URL citation appears in the printed text and is provided in the HTML and PDF versions of this article on the journal's Web site (

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.

© 2014 Wolters Kluwer Health | Lippincott Williams & Wilkins