The Caregiver Outcomes of Psychotherapy Evaluation (COPE): Development of a Social Work Assessment Tool

Alyssa Aguirre, Jared F. Benge, Anna Hardy Finger, Jess Ambiee, Illyana Runnels, Robin C. Hilsabeck

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The field of social work is increasingly recognizing and supporting the role of family caregivers as vital members of the health care team who also need support. Demands on caregivers of individuals living with Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias (ADRD) are enormous, and there remains a significant lack of measurement tools for social work clinicians to evaluate caregiver well-being in medical settings. This study reviews the development and initial psychometric properties of the Caregiver Outcomes of Psychotherapy Evaluation (COPE), a pre- and post- treatment outcome measure designed to assess and monitor the individualized needs of caregivers for individuals living with ADRD. The COPE is comprised of eight questions that assess knowledge of dementia, confidence in caregiving abilities, communication strategies, emotional well-being, support system, planning for the future, enjoying life, and confidence facing future challenges. The COPE was administered to 85 caregivers prior to the start of counseling sessions. Responsiveness to intervention, inter-item reliability and convergent/divergent validity with existing measures such as the Zarit Burden Inventory and Geriatric Depression Scale were explored. The COPE demonstrated adequate to good internal consistency (Cronbach’s alpha =.73), as well as evidence of convergent validity with caregiver reported burden (r =.37, p <.05). These findings offer preliminary support that the COPE is a brief and valid measure for social workers to use to evaluate caregiver needs in clinical settings.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalClinical Social Work Journal
StateAccepted/In press - 2024


  • Alzheimer’s disease
  • Assessment of conditions/people
  • Caregivers
  • Clinical practice
  • Dementia
  • Psychosocial
  • Social work

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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