Parenting Stress Index

Construct: Identify stressful aspects of parent-child interaction

Mother and childDescription of Measure: Screening and diagnostic measure. Underlying assumption is that both child and parent characteristics contribute to stress in the interaction.

  • Developed in 1983; Currently in 3rd edition
  • Designed for use with parents of children 3 months to 12 years old. Primary population is parents of children 0-3 years of age. Parents complete the measure.
  • 101 items with optional 19-item Life Stress scale; requires 5th grade reading level. Short form (36 items) has 3 subscales- parental distress, parent-child dysfunctional interaction and difficult child. Yields Total Stress Scale
  • Time frame to complete is 30 minutes for original; 10 minutes for short form
  • Other versions: Stress Index for Parenting Adolescents
  • Purpose: useful in prevention and intervention programs, assessment of child abuse risk, and forensic evaluation for child custody
  • Child subscales: Adaptability, Acceptability, Distractability/Hyperactivity, Demandingness, Mood, Reinforces Parent
  • Parent subscales: Competence, Social Isolation, Attachment, Parent Health, Role Restriction, Depression, Relationship with Spouse
  • Total Stress Score and Life Stress scores also
  • Languages: English, Dutch, Korean, Chinese, Portuguese, French Canadian, Italian, French, Icelandic, Japanese, Polish, Portuguese, Serbian, Swedish, Greek
  • Reliability and validity: Very good
  • Reliability: Parent - from .55-.80; child from .62-.70
  • Test-retest reliability after 1 year: .70 Parent, .55 Child; After 3 weeks: .71 Parent and .82 Child
  • Validity: Well established. Factorial validity – 41% of variance on child section accounted for by 6 factors; 44% on Parent section by 7 parent factors. Low scores correlate with parents having little investment in parenting or dysfunction in parent-child system. May also be found in parents with high defensiveness, supporting importance of administrator creating safe, accepting test environment.
  • Important normative samples: n=534 parents of children in pediatric practice in Virginia, 191 low-income mothers in pediatric primary care clinics, 223 Spanish-speaking mothers in New York City.

To obtain the instrument: Contact PAR, Inc., phone: 800-331-8378, fax: 800-727-9329, by e-mail  or visit website.


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