Parenting Stress Index

Construct: Identify stressful aspects of parent-child interaction

Description of Measure: Screening and triage measure for evaluating the parenting system and identifying issues that may lead to problems in the child's or parent's behavior. Focuses on three major domains of stress: child characteristics, parent characteristics and situational/demographic life stress.

  • Developed in 1983; currently in 4th edition.
  • Revised to improve cultural sensitivity of language and to include fathers in the standardization sample. Updated normative pool to match demographic composition of the 2007 U.S. Census.
  • Designed for use with parents of children ranging in age from 1 month to 12 years.
  • 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. Child and Parent domains combine to form Total Stress Scale. Available in Spanish.
  • Profile Form enables each parent's T- score profile to be graphed, which enriches the interpretation by providing a visual inspection of the results.
  • No time limit; parents typically complete long form in 20 minutes and short form in 10 minutes.
  • Useful in designing a treatment plan, for setting priorities for intervention or for follow-up evaluation. Commonly administered in medical centers, outpatient therapy settings and pediatric practices.
  • Child subscales: Distractibility/Hyperactivity, Adaptability, Reinforces Parent, Demandingness, Mood, Acceptability.
  • Parent subscales: Competence, Isolation, Attachment, Health, Role Restriction, Spouse/Parenting Partner Relationship.
  • Long form translation available in 28 languages.
  • Expanded norms organized by each year of child age.
  • Reliability and validity of the test supports that parenting stress is a measure that is useful across diverse populations, including Hispanic, poor rural and inner-city parents.
  • Reliability: Child subscale, .78-.88; Parent subscale, .75-.87.
  • Reliability coefficients for the two domains and the Total Stress scale were .96 or greater, indicating a high degree of internal consistency for these measures.
  • Test-retest reliability: After 1 year, Parent .70 and Child .55; after 3 weeks, Parent .71 and Child .82.
  • Important normative samples: N = 1,056 adults (534 mothers; 522 fathers); 223 Hispanic parents from pediatric clinics in New York City; 27 parents self-identified as gay or lesbian. Sample included parents from 17 states in the southern, northeastern, western and midwestern regions of the U.S.
  • Similar measures: Stress Index for Parents of Adolescents (SIPA).

To obtain the instrument: Contact PAR by phone: 1 (800) 331-8378, or order online or using PAR's contact form.


Abidin, R. R. (2012). Parenting stress index (4th ed.). Lutz, FL: PAR.