Coping flexibility and trauma: The perceived ability to Cope with Trauma (PACT) scale

George A. Bonanno, Ruth Pat-Horenczyk, Jennie Noll

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

165 Scopus citations


Theories about coping with potential trauma have emphasized the importance of concerted focus on processing the traumatic event. However, empirical evidence also suggests that it may be salubrious to distract oneself, remain optimistic, and focus on moving past the event. These seemingly contradictory perspectives are integrated in the concept of coping flexibility. This investigation reports the development and validation of a brief questionnaire, the Perceived Ability to Cope With Trauma (PACT) scale, with 2 scales that measure the perceived ability to focus on processing the trauma (trauma focus) and to focus on moving beyond the trauma (forward focus). In addition, we created a single flexibility score that represented the ability to use both types of coping. Participants included an Israeli sample with potential high trauma exposure and a sample of American college students. The factor structure of the PACT was confirmed in both samples. Preliminary evidence was obtained for the PACT's convergent, discriminant, and incremental validity. Both the Forward Focus and Trauma Focus scales were independently associated with better adjustment, and each scale independently moderated the impact of heightened trauma exposure. Similarly, the combination of these scales into a single parsimonious flexibility score also moderated trauma exposure. Limitations of and future research with the measure are considered.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)117-129
Number of pages13
JournalPsychological Trauma: Theory, Research, Practice, and Policy
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 2011


  • coping
  • flexibility
  • grief
  • resilience
  • trauma


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