Assessing Safety Behaviors in Fear of Storms: Validation of the Storm-Related Safety Behavior Scale

Abstract

With the exception of one self-report questionnaire assessing storm fear severity (Nelson et al. Journal of Psychopathology and Behavioral Assessment, 36(1), 105–114, 2014), there are few brief published assessment tools to measure the cognitive, behavioral, and physical manifestations of storm fear. A principal feature of phobic disorders is the use of safety behaviors to alleviate distress. Safety behaviors are believed to perpetuate anxiety by preventing the disconfirmation of feared outcomes (Salkovskis Behavioural Psychotherapy, 19(1), 6–19, 1991). To date, no studies have examined the use of safety behaviors in storm fear. The purpose of the current research was to develop and validate the Storm-Related Safety Behavior Scale (SRSBS; Vorstenbosch and Antony 2017), a 24-item self-report scale that measures safety behavior use in adults with a fear of storms. Two studies examined the (1) factor structure, internal consistency, validity, and test-retest reliability of the SRSBS, as well as the frequency with which specific safety behaviors were endorsed; and (2) ability of the SRSBS to differentiate between a group of adults with low and high fear of storms after exposure to a virtual thunderstorm. Factor analysis revealed that the SRSBS is best captured by one factor. Results provided preliminary evidence of convergent and discriminant validity, as well as test-retest reliability. Finally, significant group differences were found between participants with high versus low fear of storms following a virtual thunderstorm. These findings demonstrate the value of the SRSBS for assessing safety behavior use.

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Notes

  1. 1.

    The demographic categories of “White” and “Other” were mistakenly combined during data collection. Separate data on these two categories are not available.

  2. 2.

    Nonparametric Mann-Whitney U was used given non-normal distribution of age.

  3. 3.

    Cohen’s d was deemed invalid as Step 1 BAT anxiety rating for the low fear group = 0.

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Acknowledgements

Thank you to Kesla Forsythe for assistance with data collection.

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Corresponding author

Correspondence to Martin M. Antony.

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Conflict of Interest

Kirstyn L. Krause, Emma M. MacDonald, Alasdair Goodwill, Valerie Vorstenbosch and Martin M. Antony declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical Approval

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards and were approved by the University’s Research Ethics Board.

Informed Consent

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.

Appendix

Appendix

Storm-Related Safety Behavior Scale

© 2017 Valerie Vorstenbosch and Martin M. Antony. Reprinted with permission from the authors

Below is a list of behaviors that are sometimes used by people to cope with a fear of thunderstorms. Please read each item carefully and select the option that applies to you, in general.

Response options:

  • 0 = I NEVER do this to manage a fear of storms

  • 1 = I RARELY do this to manage a fear of storms

  • 2 = I SOMETIMES do this to manage a fear of storms

  • 3 = I USUALLY do this to manage a fear of storms

  • 4 = I ALWAYS do this to manage a fear of storms

During a typical thunderstorm in the past year, how much/often did you do the following to manage a fear of storms:

  1. 1.

    _______ frequently and repeatedly check weather reports to see if bad weather is expected

  2. 2.

    _______ stay indoors on days when bad weather is expected

  3. 3.

    _______ avoid being alone when bad weather is expected

  4. 4.

    _______ stay in a protected room (e.g., a basement) during a storm

  5. 5.

    _______ restrict myself to rooms without windows during a storm

  6. 6.

    _______ close the curtains during storms

  7. 7.

    _______ stay away from windows during a storm

  8. 8.

    _______ avoid driving during bad weather

  9. 9.

    _______ distract myself (e.g., by listening to music, watching television) during storms

  10. 10.

    _______ avoid talking on the telephone during a storm

  11. 11.

    _______ avoid using electronic appliances (e.g., television, computer) during a storm

  12. 12.

    _______ cancel plans when bad weather is expected

  13. 13.

    _______ leave work, school, or appointments early when bad weather is expected

  14. 14.

    _______ repeat positive statements (e.g., “I am going to be safe”) during storms

  15. 15.

    _______ ask others for reassurance that the storm is not dangerous

  16. 16.

    _______ stock up on supplies (e.g., water, food, batteries) when bad weather is expected

  17. 17.

    _______ avoid using water (e.g., showering, washing dishes) during a storm

  18. 18.

    _______ frequently call friends and family during a storm to determine their safety

  19. 19.

    _______ avoid outdoor leisure activities (e.g., camping, boating, hiking) for fear that bad weather will occur

  20. 20.

    _______ keep emergency radio on during storms

  21. 21.

    _______ avoid leaving home on days when bad weather is expected

  22. 22.

    _______ wear protective gear when I go outside during a storm

  23. 23.

    _______ watch the sky or clouds on days when the weather is bad

  24. 24.

    _______ frequently and repeatedly look out the window to check the weather conditions

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Krause, K.L., MacDonald, E.M., Goodwill, A.M. et al. Assessing Safety Behaviors in Fear of Storms: Validation of the Storm-Related Safety Behavior Scale. J Psychopathol Behav Assess 40, 139–148 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10862-017-9622-x

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Keywords

  • Phobia
  • Storm
  • Fear
  • Safety behavior
  • Measurement
  • Factor analysis
  • Virtual reality