Parenting Stress Index (PSI)

Assessment Rating:
A – Psychometrics Well-Demonstrated
See entire scale

Richard R. Abidin, PhD

Description / Purpose:

The Parenting Stress Index (PSI) is used 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; 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.

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.

Completed By: Parents

Modalities Available: Pen and paper, Online

Scoring Information: Not Specified

Languages Available: English

Training Requirements for Intended Users: None

Availability: Not Specified

Contact Information

Company: PAR, Inc.
Phone: (800) 331-8378
Fax: (800) 727-9329

Summary of Relevant Psychometric Research

This tool has received the Measurement Tools Rating of "A – Psychometrics Well-Demonstrated" based on the published, peer-reviewed research available. The tool must have 2 or more published, peer-reviewed studies that have established the measure’s psychometrics (e.g., reliability and validity, sensitivity and specificity, etc.). Please see the Measurement Tools Rating Scale for more information.

Show relevant research...

Loyd, B. H., & 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.

Date Reviewed: July 2020 (Originally reviewed in November 2014)