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Assessment Rating:
A – Reliability and Validity Demonstrated
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Parenting Stress Index and Parenting Stress Index-Short Form (PSI/PSI-SF)


Richard R. Abidin, PhD

Description / Purpose:

To measure the relative stress in the parent-child relationship. Child Characteristics in the full scale include: Distractibility/Hyperactivity, Adaptability, Reinforces Parent, Demandingness, Mood, and Acceptability. Parent measures include: Competence, Isolation, Attachment, Health, Role Restriction, Depression, and Spouse. The PSI is used for early identification of dysfunctional parent-child interactions, parental stress, family functioning, and risk for child abuse and neglect, and also for evaluation of child custody decisions.

Target Population: Parents at risk for child abuse and neglect. It may be used for parents of children up to 12 years, but is primarily intended for parents of children 0-3 years.

Intended Users: Primary healthcare providers, early childhood education and childcare providers, and workers serving populations at risk for child abuse and neglect.

Time to Administer: The PSI consists of a 120-item test booklet with an optional 19-item Life Stress scale, and an all-in-one self-scoring answer sheet/profile form. It takes approximately 30 minutes to complete. The PSI-Short Form is derived from the full-length test and consists of a 36-item self-scoring questionnaire/ profile. It yields a Total Stress score from three scales: Parental Distress, Parent-Child Dysfunctional Interaction, and Difficult Child.

Completed By: Parents.

Modalities Available: Paper and Pencil or Windows version available at Psychological Publications, Inc.

Scoring Information: Not Specified

Languages Available: Chinese, English, French Canadian, Italian, Korean, Portuguese — the rating for the measure is based solely on the English version of the measure.

Training Requirements for Intended Users: Recommended requirements are a 4-year degree in Psychology, Medicine, Neurology, Nursing, Occupational Therapy, Counseling or a related field, including coursework in the administration of psychological tests.

Availability: These may be purchased at PAR, Inc.'s website: PSI and PSI-SF.

Contact Information

Company: Multi-health Systems, Inc.
Website: www.mhs.com
Phone: (800) 456-3003
Fax: (888) 540-4484
Company: PAR, Inc.
Website: www4.parinc.com/Support/ContactForm.aspx
Phone: (800) 331-8378
Fax: (800) 727-9329

Summary of Relevant Psychometric Research

This assessment has received the Assessment Rating of "A – Reliability and Validity Demonstrated" based on the published, peer-reviewed research available. The assessment must have 2 or more published, peer-reviewed studies that demonstrated that the measure is reliable and valid. Please see the Assessment Rating Scale for more information.

Show relevant research...

Loyd, B. H., & R. R. Abidin. R. R. (1985). Revision of the Parent Stress Index. Journal of Pediatric Psychiatry, 10(2), 169-177.


Participants — 534 parents recruited from a pediatric practice in Virginia.

Race/Ethnicity — Not Specified


This publication reports good test-retest reliability scores. Also given is a factor structure of six Child subscores: Adaptability, Acceptability, Demandingness, Mood, Distractibility/Hyperactivity, and Reinforces parent; and seven Parent subscores: Depression, Attachment, Restrictions of Role, Sense of Competence, Social Isolation, Relationship with Spouse, and Parent Health.

Solis, M. L., & Abidin, R. R. (1991). The Spanish version Parenting Stress Index: A psychometric study. Journal of Clinical Child Psychology, 20(4), 372-378.


Participants — 223 Spanish-speaking mothers recruited from a New York City metropolitan hospital pediatric department, or through referrals.

Race/Ethnicity — Self-identified as of Spanish or Hispanic origin.


The PSI was translated independently by 4 individuals and discrepancies were resolved by the translators. A back-translation was also performed and reviewed by one of the senior authors. Participant mothers completed the questionnaire. Inter-item reliabilities for the Spanish version of the PSI were good and the factor structure of the scale was similar to that for other psychometric studies, with factors reflecting Child Characteristics, Parent Characteristics, and Child-Parent Interaction.

Hutcheson, J. J., & Black, M. M. (1996). Psychometric properties of the Parenting Stress Index in a sample of low-income African-American mothers of infants and toddlers. Early Education and Development, 7(4), 381-400.


Participants — 191 low-income mothers recruited from pediatric primary care clinics.

Race/Ethnicity — 100% African American


This study was intended to verify the properties of the PSI, using a sample of African-American mothers. Mothers were given an oral version of the questionnaire and observation of mother-child interaction was also taken in the laboratory during infant feeding. Finally, a home visit was conducted. Measures included the PSI, the Brief Symptom Index, the Center for Epidemiological Studies Depression Scale (CES-D), the Family Support Scale, the Life Events Questionnaire, the Parenting Sense of Competence Scale and the Self-Report Family Inventory. Observations were taken using the Child Well-being scales, the HOME scale, and the Parent-Child Early Relational Assessment. The authors selected items from the scales administered to assess concurrent validity and construct validity of the PSI. The results showed high convergence with other measures of maternal stress.

Bigras, M., LaFreniere, P. J., & Dumas, J. E. (1996). Discriminant validity of the parent and child scales of the Parenting Stress Index. Early Education and Development, 7(2), 167-178.


Participants — 245 French-Canadian mothers of preschoolers

Race/Ethnicity — Not Specified


Mothers completed questionnaires and were observed during a problem-solving task in the laboratory. Measures compared included the Insularity scale, the Dyadic Adjustment Scale, the Beck Depression Inventory, the Child Behavior Checklist (CBCL), and the Parent-Child Attachment Q-sort. Results showed correlation of the PSI with measures of depression and marital maladjustment, negative parenting attitudes and child behavioral problems, and self-reported stress. Analyses also supported discriminant validity shown by the absence of correlations between scales not theoretically expected to be related. There was also a relationship between observations of mothers whose interaction with their children was more negative and ratings on the PSI. However, this relationship was only significant for the child-related portion of the scale.

Haskett, M. E., Ahern, L. S., Ward, C. S., & Allaire, J. C. (2006). Factor structure and validity of the Parenting Stress Index-Short Form. Journal of Clinical Child and Adolescent Psychology, 35(2), 302-312.


Participants — 204 parents enrolled in a study of children's social adjustment in North Carolina.

Race/Ethnicity — 68% African American, 34% Caucasian, 2% Hispanic/biracial.


This study documents the development of a 36-item version of the original PSI, to reduce the time-commitment necessary for completing the instrument. Results suggest a 2-factor structure with items measuring Parental Distress and Dysfunctional Parent-Child interaction. This study used parents with documented histories of abuse from child protective services in comparison with parents from nearby neighborhoods. Measures included the Symptom Checklist-90 Revised (SCL-90-R) designed to measure psychological symptoms, the Eyberg Child Behavior Inventory (ECBI), the Conflict Tactics Scale, and an observation using the Qualitative Ratings of Parent-Child Interactions. Teachers also filled out a Social Behavior Scale, and children's behavior was observed during a school recess period. Results from a small subsample one year later showed that the PSI-SF was related to parent reports of disruptive behaviors. Scores on the Childrearing Stress subscale were also related to whether or not parents had a substantiated case of abusive parenting.

Whiteside-Mansell, L., Ayoub, C., McKelvey, L, Faldowski, R. A., Hart, A., & Shears, J. (2007). Parenting stress of low-income parents of toddlers and preschoolers: Psychometric properties of a short form of the Parenting Stress Index. Parenting: Science and Practice, 7(1), 27-56.


Participants — 1122 Early Head Start Parents

Race/Ethnicity — 42% European American, 40% African American, 1% Latin American, and 5% other.


Parents in this study were drawn from a large-scale Early Head Start (EHS) Research and Evaluation Study. Families were randomly assigned to receive EHS services or to receive no services. Families interviewed completed the PSI-SF, a survey of demographic characteristics, the Center for Epidemiological Studies Depression Scale (CESD), the Home Observation for Measurement of the Environment (HOME), a measurement of family conflict from the Family Environment Scale and other measures of negative life events, exposure to violence, and children's negative behaviors. Results indicated good levels of internal reliability for the subscales examined which focused on Parental Distress and Parent-Child Dysfunctional Interaction.

McKelvey, L. M., Whiteside-Mansell, L., Faldowski, R. A., Shears, J., Ayoub, C., & Hart, A. D. (2009). Validity of the short form of the Parenting Stress Index for fathers of toddlers. Journal of Child and Family Studies, 18, 102-111.


Participants — 696 fathers of toddlers, recruited from a study of Early Head Start.

Race/Ethnicity — 50% White, 25% African-American, 15% Hispanic, 10% Other.


Note: This study includes a sub-sample from the Whiteside-Mansell et al., 2007 study. In addition to the PSI-SF, participants completed the Center for Epidemiological Studies Depression Scale (CES-D), the Index of Discipline Severity and an interview concerning fathering activities such as play and physical care-taking. Results suggest that PSI-SF distress scales show concurrent validity with the CES-D. However, the authors note that this study did not examine all of the PSI-SF subscales.

Date Reviewed: June 2009