Brief COPE

The Brief-COPE is a 28 item self-report questionnaire designed to measure effective and ineffective ways to cope with a stressful life event. “Coping” is defined broadly as an effort used to minimise distress associated with negative life experiences.

The scale is often used in health-care settings to ascertain how patients are emotionally responding to a serious circumstance. It can be be used to measure how someone is coping with a wide range of adversity, including a cancer diagnosis, heart failure, injuries, assaults, natural disasters, financial stress or mental illness. The scale is useful in counselling settings for formulating the helpful and unhelpful ways someone responds to stressors.

The scale can determine someone’s primary coping styles with scores on the following three subscalse:

  • Problem-Focused Coping
  • Emotion-Focused Coping
  • Avoidant Coping

In addition, the following facets of coping are reported: Self-distraction, Denial, Substance Use, Behavioural disengagement, Emotional Support, Venting, Humour, Acceptance, Self-Blame, Religion, Active Coping, Use of Instrumental Support, Positive Reframing, and Planning.

Related Publications

Carver, C. S. (1997). You want to measure coping but your protocol is too long: Consider the brief cope. International journal of behavioral medicine, 4(1), 92-100.

Carver, C. S., Scheier, M. F., & Weintraub, J. K. (1989). Assessing coping strategies: a theoretically based approach. Journal of personality and social psychology, 56(2), 267.


What it measures



Charles S Carver


General population