Published on March 5, 2014
Parenting Stress Index (3rd Ed) John G. Kuna, PsyD and Associates www.johngkunapsydandassociates.com www.facebook.com/JohnGKuna.PsyD.Associates
Introduction • Developed in 1995 by Richard Abidin • Designed to gauge the perceived degree of stress within a parent-child system • Purports to identify dysfunctional parenting styles, assessment of child abuse risk, forensic evaluation for child custody, as well as prediction of possible behavioral and developmental difficulties within the family system. • Thus, the PSI is not a child diagnostic tool; rather it assesses the degree of stress manifested within the parent-child relationship.
Theoretical basis • Assumes basic reciprocal deterministic system, • Wherein a parent’s total stress is a function of the intersection of situational and environmental factors of parenthood, child temperament and parent temperament
Instrument Description • Six child subscales: ▫ ▫ ▫ ▫ ▫ ▫ Adaptability Acceptability Distractibility/ Hyperactivity Demandingness Mood Reinforces Parent
Description, cont. • Seven Parental subscales: ▫ ▫ ▫ ▫ ▫ ▫ ▫ Competence, Social Isolation, Attachment, Parent Health, Role Restriction, Depression, Relationship with Spouse.
Description, cont. • Optional Life Stress Scale: ▫ ▫ ▫ ▫ 19 Questions Non-normed No evaluative validity, Useful as a prompt for further consultation and analysis
Reliability • The total reliability of the instrument is reported to be .95 • Domain reliability: .93 for parents and .89 for children. • Reliability of the 13 sub scales ranges from .55 to .80 for parents, and .62 to .70 for children (Abidin, 1995). ▫ Sub Scale reliability is variable. Must be calculated according to child’s age.
Validity • Copious bibliography of PSI used as a measure of Parental Dysfunction • PSI has shown to be highly correlated with other psychometric tests of parental anxiety, lack of spousal support (Adamakos et al., 1986), and marital dissatisfaction (Cowan & Cowan, 1983).
Validity, cont. • The application of the PSI to special populations (including those with developmental disabilities and those within the autistic spectrum) reveal the sensitivity of the PSI in accounting for the increased stress present in those family systems (Hayes & Watson, 2013).
Standardization • Abidin was a clinician in Virginia at the time he constructed the PSI. • Standardized on 534 predominantly white mothers from central Virginia. • Children’s ages ranged from 1 month to 19 years, although 95% of the sample children were under 5 years of age.
Format • Inherent difficulty in Self-report data • PSI attempts to compensate for this ▫ Deliberately worded to assess a parents’ subjective experience while simultaneously capturing their objective assessment ▫ Each item of the PSI is worded to include a descriptive statement of the child’s behavior as well an evaluative statement
Format, cont. • Example, Item 77: “When my child misbehaves or fusses too much, I feel responsible, as if I didn’t do something right.” • After the descriptive statement of the child’s behavior (“when my child misbehaves…”), comes the evaluative statement (“I feel responsible…”). • PSI attempts to capture both the experiential and perceived component of stressors.
Format, cont. • McKinney and Peterson (1984) argue that this intermingling of evaluative and descriptive statements yields less than objective results, and is an obvious deficit of the PSI. • Argument seems to neglect the reciprocal relationship of interpersonal relationships—namely, that a stress response itself may actually serve to be a future stressor. • An example: stress may cause a parent to feel frustration more quickly towards their child, but then guilt over that anger may contribute to future stress.
Subject Analysis • The present subject is ▫ ▫ ▫ ▫ ▫ ▫ 28 years old, Caucasian female, Middle class, Stay at home mother of a 2.5 year old son. The subject has a BA in Psychology, Subject has been married for only three months, but has been cohabitating with her now husband for the last six years.
Data Presentation: Child domain scores : Domain Raw Score Distractability/Hyperac tive Adaptability Reinforces Parent Demandingness Mood Acceptability (Totals) 15 Corresponding Percentile 15 20 8 13 7 8 71 20 45 15 25 15 70
Data Presentation: Parent domain scores Domain Raw score Competence Isolation Attachment Health Role Restriction Depression Spouse (Totals) 21 10 10 10 14 16 13 94 Corresponding Percentile 10 25 25 35 20 20 25 15
Evaluation • The subject’s overall stress score is 165 • Well within acceptable limits. • Abidin recommends further evaluation with any parent scoring 260 or above. • The subject scored 15 on the Life Stress analysis. • The manual recommends referral for professional services to clients with scores of 17 or above on the Life Stress analysis. • Present subject had experienced recently the death of her father, her husband’s job loss, and a marriage.
Defensive Responding • No indication of defensive responding was detected. • During pre-administration instructions as well as post-test debriefing the client presented with a high degree of internal motivation towards completion of the PSI. • Since the subject is in fact my wife, I’d like to think she was forthright in her self-report.
Conclusion • The PSI is at a notable disadvantage to other diagnostic instruments currently available. The use of the instrument for declaring diagnostic labels to children is not recommended, • The Life Stress Domain has no evaluative validity, except as a prompt for further consultation and analysis. • The PSI would be highly valuable as part of a screening inventory to identify parents most in need of further intervention or to plan specific issues to address in a parenting intervention.
Conclusion • PSI could be highly compatible with school psychological practice. • Applicable in the evaluation of preschool children population. • The strength of the PSI lies in its ability as a predictive instrument for preventative measures, as well as a tool for further investigation.
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