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Parenting Stress Index™, Fourth Edition

Richard R. Abidin, EdD

Identifies parent–child problem areas
Paper and pencil, Online administration and scoring via PARiConnect, Software
Age range:
Birth to 12 years
20 minutes
Qualification level:
A degree, certificate, or license to practice in a health care profession or occupation, including (but not limited to) the following: medicine, neurology, nursing, occupational therapy and other allied health care professions, physician's assistants, psychiatry, social work; plus appropriate training and experience in the ethical administration, scoring, and interpretation of clinical behavioral assessment instruments. Certain health care providers may be eligible to purchase selected "B" and "C" level instruments within their area of expertise. Specifically, relevant supervised clinical experience using tests (i.e., internship, residency, etc.) in combination with formal coursework ( i.e., Tests and Measurement, Individual Assessment, or equivalent) qualifies a health care provider to purchase certain restricted products. Any PAR Customer already qualified to purchase a "B" or "C" level product, is also qualified to purchase an "S" level product. If you are not already qualified to purchase a "B"or "C" level product from PAR, please download and complete the special Qualification Form for Medical and Allied Health Professionals. (You will need Adobe Acrobat to view.) Close

Designed to evaluate the magnitude of stress in the parent–child system, the fourth edition of the popular PSI is a 120-item inventory that focuses on three major domains of stress: child characteristics, parent characteristics, and situational/demographic life stress.

The PSI-4 is commonly used as a 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. This information may be used for designing a treatment plan, for setting priorities for intervention, and/or for follow-up evaluation. Other common settings for administration of the PSI-4 include medical centers where children are receiving medical care, outpatient therapy settings, pediatric practices, and treatment outcome monitoring.

Features and benefits

  • Revised to improve the psychometric characteristics of subscales and domains and to update item wording to more clearly tap into the target construct or behavioral pattern or to be more understandable. The original structure has been retained.
  • Validation studies conducted within a variety of foreign populations, including Chinese, Portuguese, French Canadian, Finnish, and Dutch, suggest that the PSI is a robust measure that maintains its validity with diverse non-English-speaking cultures.
  • Expanded norms are organized by each year of child age. Percentiles—the primary interpretive framework for the PSI-4— and T scores are provided.
  • One validity scale—Defensive Responding—indicates whether the parent is responding in a defensive manner.

Test structure

Two domains, Child and Parent, combine to form the Total Stress scale. The Life Stress scale provides information about the amount of parent stress caused by factors outside the parent-child relationship.

  • Within the Child Domain, six subscales (Distractibility/Hyperactivity, Adaptability, Reinforces Parent, Demandingness, Mood, and Acceptability) evaluate sources of stress as gathered from the parent’s report of child characteristics.
  • Within the Parent Domain, seven subscales (Competence, Isolation, Attachment, Health, Role Restriction, Depression, and Spouse/Parenting Partner Relationship) measure sources of stress related to parent characteristics.

Technical information

  • All-new normative data were collected from a sample of 534 mothers and 522 fathers stratified to match the demographic composition of the 2007 U.S. Census.
  • Coefficient alpha reliability coefficients based on the responses of individuals in the normative sample ranged from .78 to .88 for Child Domain subscales and from .75 to .87 for Parent Domain subscales. 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 coefficients, obtained through several studies, ranged from .55 to .82 for the Child Domain, from .69 to .91 for the Parent Domain, and from .65 to .96 for the Total Stress score.
  • Validity has been investigated in studies that focused on at-risk children, attachment, ADHD, child abuse, forensic contexts, medical treatment adherence, substance abuse, parental depression, and more.

Software is available

The PSI-4 SP allows you to administer either the 120-item PSI-4 or the 36-item PSI-4-SF on-screen or to hand-enter item responses from either form and produces up to four reports. In addition, the software allows you to e-mail an invitation to complete the PSI-4 or PSI-4-SF to the client or rater and helps you manage these assessments. An updated PSI bibliography is included within the software.

  • The PSI-4 Interpretive Report contains a percentile profile, a T-score profile, a score summary table, a validity analysis, a scale-by-scale interpretation of the protocol, a list of possible diagnoses for the child, and intervention recommendations.
  • The PSI-4 Score Report contains a percentile profile, a T-score profile, a score summary table, and a table of item responses.
  • The PSI-4-SF Interpretive Report contains a profile, a score summary table, a scale-by-scale interpretation of the protocol, and a list of possible diagnoses for the child.
  • The PSI-4-SF Score Report contains a percentile profile, a T-score profile, a score summary table, and a table of item responses.

The PSI-4 SP is built on a software platform that improves navigation, ensures ease of use for both client and administrator, and features an innovative design.