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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, E-Manual, Download
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

NEW! The PSI-4 PARiConnect Quick Start Kit is now available! It includes the PSI-4 e-Manual, 10 i-Admins, and 10 interpretive reports bundled together to get you started on PARiConnect quickly.

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. 

A 36-item screening form is also available! Learn more about the PSI-4 Short Form.

Features and benefits

  • Commonly used as a diagnostic or screening measure to evaluate the parenting system. 
  • Helps identify at-risk or problem areas in the child's or parent's behavior. 
  • Two domain scores and 13 subscales facilitate both treatment planning in relation to problem areas and the evaluation of the effectiveness of interventions. 
  • Useful in family system evaluations such as custody evaluations or at-risk for dysfunctional parenting. 
  • Major enhancements in this revision include: improved cultural sensitivity of item language, increased internal consistency of scales, the addition of age-based norms at the domain and subscale level, enhanced factor loading of items on scales, the addition of T scores to enhance interpretation, and a new normative sample that includes fathers
  • Has been translated into more than 30 languages and maintains its factor structure and predictive abilities. 
  • Expanded norms are organized by each year of a child's age. T scores are provided, but percentiles remain the primary interpretive framework. 
  • A Defensive Responding subscale indicates whether the parent is presenting a "minimizing" or "look good" bias to their responses. 
  • 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.


Short form available

The PSI-4-SF is an abbreviated version of the full-length PSI-4 that takes about 10 minutes to complete. One simple form contains everything you need for administering the measure and for scoring and profiling results. It's ideal for use in schools, mental health clinics, and research. The PSI-4-SF Record/Profile Form is also available in Spanish. Learn more.

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.

Available in Spanish

The PSI-4-SF Record/Profile Form has been translated into U.S. Spanish. This product uses English norms only.

Downloadable software 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. 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.

To learn more about the PSI-4, visit the PAR Training Portal and watch a video presentation given by the author!