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Assessment of anger coping skills in individuals with intellectual disabilities


Paul Willner, Community Support Team, Neath Civic Centre, Neath SA11 3QZ, UK (e-mail:


Recent controlled studies have supported the effectiveness of anger management training for people with intellectual disabilities (IDs). This report describes an evaluation instrument designed to assess their usage of specific anger coping skills. The Profile of Anger Coping Skills (PACS) is designed for completion by a staff member or carer. Three situations are first elicited in which a client frequently displays anger. The respondent then rates each situation for the extent to which the client deploys each of eight behavioural and cognitive coping skills. In a preliminary reliability study, 20 users of a day service for people with IDs were rated independently by two staff members, with one of them completing the assessment on two separate occasions: the PACS showed good test–retest reliability and lower, but still acceptable, interrater reliability. The PACS was subsequently used, in a different day service, as part of the assessment pack administered before and after a 12-week anger management group, with a parallel assessment of an untreated control group. The treated group showed substantial decreases in measures of anger, which were maintained at 6-month follow-up. Increases in PACS-rated anger coping skills were also seen in all participants in the anger management group, but not in the control group. There were differences in the extent to which different coping skills were acquired by the treated group, and there were also individual differences in the profile of specific skills acquired. It is concluded that the PACS is a reliable instrument for assessing anger coping skills, particularly when used repeatedly with the same informant. It provides information that is useful for both individual care planning and the design of future anger management programmes.