July 2009 Article of the Month
Rosmarin, D. H., Pargament, K. I., Krumrei, E. J. and Flannelly, K. J. "Religious coping among Jews: development and initial validation of the JCOPE." Journal of Clinical Psychology 65, no. 7 (July 2009): 670-683.
SUMMARY and COMMENT: This month's article presents "an easy-to-administer measure of Jewish religious coping that has utility for clinical work" [p. 672] -- the JCOPE -- an instrument that also fills an important gap for research. In doing so, the authors provide a good opportunity for comparison with the very popular Brief RCOPE measure, which may help illuminate that measure's strengths, weaknesses, and character. The article is highly technical, with advanced statistical analysis valuable to researchers, but general readers should find the content quite accessible through the plainly written introductory and discussion sections [--see pp. 670-672 and 680-681] and Table 3 [p. 677] that sets out the instrument's 16 items.
The validity of the JCOPE is shown through two studies using large community samples.
In Study 1, 22 JCOPE candidate items were developed and their factor structure was determined using an exploratory factor analysis. Additionally, we conducted an initial examination of the concurrent validity of the JCOPE by exploring its links to Jewish beliefs and practices. In Study 2, we conducted a CFA [Confirmatory Factor Analysis] to validate further the JCOPE’s factor structure. In addition, we examined the incremental validity of the JCOPE as a predictor of worry, anxiety, and depression after controlling for significant covariates. [p. 672]The result of this fine-tuning and validation process is an instrument consisting of 12 items for positive religious coping, and 4 items for negative religious coping [--see Table 3 on p. 677]. For those interested in the statistical analysis, a great deal of detail is given as the heart of the article [--see pp. 672-676]. The very need for the JCOPE points up the fact that a "significant limitation of the current literature on religious coping is that existing studies have focused almost exclusively on Christians, and knowledge about religious coping in other religious populations is sparse" [p. 671].
For this reader, the items of the JCOPE immediately drew me to think of the items on the widely-used Brief RCOPE, because there seemed to be obvious similarities and intentional differences. The authors of this month's article do not set out the JCOPE as a derivation from the Brief RCOPE. Indeed, they note (on p. 673) that the candidate items in the present measure were developed from a 2000 study out of Bowling Green State University by Eric F. Dubow, Kenneth I. Pargament, Paul Boxer and Nalini Tarakeshwar: "Initial investigation of Jewish early adolescents’ ethnic identity, stress and coping" [Journal of Early Adolescence 20, no. 4 (November 2000): 418–441; listed below in Related Items of Interest, with abstract], plus "a review of the religious coping literature and interviews with rabbis and religious educators" [p. 673]. However, the measure used by Dubow, et al. was itself apparently shaped by foundational work on the RCOPE by Kenneth I. Pargament (also at Bowling Green) and others, which had just been published or was still in press at the time that Dubow and colleague were writing [--see especially p. 426 of the Dubow, et al. article].
Our current article's authors state the following about the JCOPE in relation to the Brief RCOPE:
It should...be noted that the brief Religious Coping Scale (RCOPE; Pargament et al., 1998), a well-utilized measure of religious coping, is not ideally suited for use with Jewish populations. In contrast to other religious traditions that stress the importance of thoughts, feelings, and intentions, the Jewish religion places more importance on religious practices and community involvement.... The majority of brief RCOPE items, however, assess for religious coping in terms of specific religious thoughts and feelings (e.g., "I felt punished by God for my lack of devotion") and those relating to religious behaviors are generally phrased and not related to specific ritual practices (e.g., "I sought God’s love and care"). Additionally, no brief RCOPE items (positive or negative) assess directly for congregational involvement. [pp. 671-672]The connections between the JCOPE and the Brief RCOPE are intriguing, prompting this reader to compare directly the items of the two instruments. [For my own comparison, click HERE.] Items carried over from the RCOPE to the JCOPE are implicitly affirmed as having good value across lines of religious/cultural diversity, whereas those items that are markedly changed or are omitted may be seen to have limited application. The practical comparison of instruments like these, in addition to the psychometric analysis of the measures individually, should be a catalyst for the overall dialogue on measurement strategies across the many lines of diversity that complicate spirituality & health research. In creating the JCOPE, Rosmarin and his colleagues have helped to highlight both possible limits in the use of the RCOPE and potential strengths of a number of specific items. Their work speaks to the broad and pressing question of "What should we ask, and how?"
Suggestions for the Use of the Article for Discussion in CPE:
Students unfamiliar with statistics should be guided to focus on the introductory section on pp. 670-672, the Measures section at the top of p. 673, and the General Discussion and Limitations & Future Directions sections on pp. 680-681; and asked to think about the items presented in Table 3 on p 677. The article holds strong potential for discussion about how questionnaires contain cultural biases: non-Jewish students should consider how the items in the JCOPE seem odd or inapplicable to them, and Jewish students might look similarly at the Brief RCOPE in light of the JCOPE. This would be a good opportunity for a CPE group that does not have any Jewish representation to bring in a guest to speak to key elements of Jewish tradition pertinent to the JCOPE. Of course, the article could be an entrée to a broader discussion of religious coping and the concepts of positive and negative religious coping. Advanced research students could delve into the particulars of the validity analysis of the JCOPE on pp. 672-678, and they may want to talk about some of the possible weaknesses of the negative religious coping subscale: i.e., the relative weakness of the "I questioned whether G-d can really do anything" item in Study #1 and the "I get mad at G-d" item in Study #2, and also the points about the subscale in the section on limitations on p. 681.
Related Items of Interest:
I. The two previous studies with Jewish populations that are cited by the authors of our featured article:
II. For those interested in taking the comparison of instruments (such as I myself have done with the Brief RCOPE and the JCOPE --HERE) a step further, the following two article are noted in our featured articles as religious coping measures for Hindus and Muslims. (Note that Kenneth I Pargament is a common co-author among these articles.) The measure for Hindu populations is perhaps the more conducive to comparison with the Brief RCOPE and JCOPE.
III. Religious coping is a major theme in current spirituality & health research, and it has been a theme in a number of our Articles-of-the-Month. See most recently our pages for April 2009 and March 2009, as well as our page for November 2004.
IV. For other recent work by this month's principal author, David H. Rosmarin, who is founder and director of JPSYCH: Research on Judaism and Mental Health (www.jpsych.com), see:
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