Coping Strategies and Executive Functions in Zambian Parents of Children with Developmental Disabilities

Busisiwe Zapparoli, PhD

Boston Children’s Hospital
Coping Strategies and Executive Functions in Zambian Parents of Children with Developmental Disabilities

Scientific Abstract


Background: This study explored the relationship between executive functioning (EF) skills and coping strategies endorsed by Zambian parents of children with developmental disabilities (DD).

Methods: Participants were 75 caregivers (mostly mothers) of children with a DD, residing in Lusaka, Zambia. A researcher-administered questionnaire was completed with the parents. Carver’s (1997) brief situational format of the COPE inventory (Carver, Scheier & Weintraub, 1989) was used to measure coping strategies. A factor analysis was conducted to explore the factor structure of the COPE in the present sample, similar to the approach taken by other researchers (e.g., Krageloh, 2011). Roth and

Gioia’s (2005) adult version of the behavior rating inventory for executive function (BRIEF-A) was used to measure EF. Correlational analyses were then used to explore the relationship between EF domains and coping factors.

Results: Following Exploratory Principal Component Analyses with Varimax rotation of the brief COPE, a four-component structure, accounting for 63.3% of the variance and having 6 subscales with eigenvalues greater than 1, accounted for the most variance and had the most face validity. Factor 1 (Emotional Support, Instrumental Support, and Religion subscales) and Factor 4 (Positive Reframing and Venting subscales) were not significantly related to EF skills. Conversely, Factor 2 (Denial, Behavioural Disengagement, and Self Blame subscales) and Factor 3 (Active Coping, Planning, and the Acceptance subscales) were significantly related to a number of EF subscales of the BRIEF-A.

Conclusions: Hofmann, Schmeichel, and Baddeley (2012) propose that intact EF skills are necessary for self-regulation and are therefore related to the implementation of coping strategies. Additional research should further explore the relationship between coping strategies and EF among Zambian parents, with a goal of improving parental outcomes.

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research Areas


Busisiwe Zapparoli, PhD, Adrienne Perry, PhD