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SIPA - Stress Index for Parents of Adolescents

The SIPA was designed to measure parenting stress in parents of adolescents.

The measure is conceived as a developmentally sensitive upward extension of the Parenting Stress Index (PSI), Abidin (1995), and contains items that are more reflective of issues and stressors faced by parents of adolescents.

It yields scores on the following: 1) Adolescent Domain, 2) Parent-Domain, 3) Adolescent-Parent Domain, 4) Life Stress Scale, and 5) Total Parenting Stress.




Sheras, Peter L., Ph.D., Abidin, Richard R., Ed.D.,& onold,

Sheras, P. L., Abidin, R. R., Konold, T. R. (1998). Stress Index for Parents of Adolescents: Professional Manual. Lutz, FL: Psychological Assessment Resources.

Contact Information: 

PAR, Inc.; Phone: 1-800-331-8378

Cost Involved
Domain Assessed: 
Age Range: 
Measure Type: 
In-depth Assessment
Measure Format: 


Number of Items: 
Average Time to Complete (min): 
Reporter Type: 
Average Time to Score (min): 
Not indicated
Response Format: 

5-pt rating scale for the first 90 items: 1) Strongly Disagree, 2) Disagree, 3) Not Sure, 4) Agree, and 5) Strongly Agree. 2-pt Yes/No scale for the last 22 items, which assess exposure to stressful life events.

Materials Needed: 
Sample Items: 
DomainsScaleSample Items
Information Provided: 
Areas of Concern/Risks
Continuous Assessment
Graphs (e.g. of elevated scale)
Raw Scores
Standard Scores


Training to Administer: 
Training by Experienced Clinician (less than 4 hours)
Training to Interpret: 
Prior Experience in Psych Testing/Interpretation

Parallel or Alternate Forms

Parallel Forms: 
Alternate Forms: 
Different Age Forms: 
Altered Version Forms: 
Alternative Forms Description: 

SIPA is conceived as a developmentally sensitive upward extension of the Parenting Stress Index (PSI), Abidin (1995), that better assesses parenting stress when dealing specifically with adolescents. The PSI is reviewed in this database, as is a brief version: the PSI-Short Form.


Clinical Populations
Notes on Psychometric Norms: 

From the manual:
1. Efforts were made to ensure that the norms reflect U.S. population characteristics, including ethnicity, gender, and SES. Manual presents
sample characteristics along with 1997 U.S. Census information for these variables. Information regarding the normative sample is presented under
“Population Used to Develop Measure.”
2. Mothers were oversampled to reflect the fact that 23% of U.S. children live with only their mother.
3. SES is slightly higher in the normative sample than in the general population.
4. SIPA means and SDs for 5 groups of parents whose adolescents fell into
5 clinical categories are presented: Mood Disorders (n=18), ADHD (n=13), Oppositional-Defiant Disorder (n=24), Conduct Disorder (n=59), and Anxiety Disorder (n=10).
Due to the small sample sizes the authors suggest the data be viewed as clinical hypotheses about sources of stress experienced by parents with
clinically diagnosed adolescents.
5. Analyses suggested no difference based on parent gender or adolescent age, so separate norms based on parent gender and adolescent age were
not presented.

Clinical Cutoffs: 
Clinical Cutoffs Description: 

<85th percentile = within normal limits, 85th-89th = borderline, 90th-94th = clinically significant, 95th-100th = clinically severe

Test-RetestAcceptableCronbach's Alpha0.830.930.85
Internal ConsistencyAcceptableChronbach's alpha0.810.970.89
References for Reliability: 

Reliability data are presented from the manual: TEST-RETEST RELIABILITY A sample of 46 parents (of the original 778) were asked to participate in the test-retest. Adolescent Domain (.92), Delinquency/Antisocial (.83), Moodiness/Emotional Liability (.90), Failure to Achieve or Persevere (.91), Social Isolation (.75) Parent Domain (.87) , Life Restrictions (.85), Relationship with Spouse/Partner (.85), Social Alienation (.74), Incompetence/Guilt (.83) Adolescent/Parent Relationship (.91) Index of Total Parenting Stress (.93) INTERNAL CONSISTENCY (n=778: Cronbach’s alpha) Adolescent Domain (.95), Delinquency/Antisocial (.90), Moodiness/Emotional Liability (.90), Failure to Achieve or Persevere (.90), Social Isolation (.85) Parent Domain (.94) , Life Restrictions (.89), Relationship with Spouse/Partner (.81), Social Alienation (.81), Incompetence/Guilt (.82) Adolescent/Parent Relationship (.91) Index of Total Parenting Stress (.97)

Content Validity Evaluated: 
References for Content Validity: 

From the manual:
The SIPA was developed through multiple steps. First, PSI items were reviewed to identify and retain items that would be applicable to parents of adolescents.

Next, new items were written based on the developmental and clinical literature related to adolescent parenting, parenting distress, and dysfunctional parenting behaviors. Items were suggested by the authors, parents, clinicians, and researchers. At each step items were revised or dropped based on readability, factor loadings, reliability analyses, coverage of constructs, and important findings in the research literature. Adolescent Domain items were designed to reflect developmentally relevant characteristics of adolescents that are central to adolescent-parent tension (Self-Direction, Sexuality, Goals and Values, and Achievement).

A 120-item SIPA was reviewed by a diverse group of psychologists and social service professionals (representatives from Hispanic, Asian, African-American, and gay/lesbian communities) prior to the collection of normative data using this version. This group suggested changes to make the measure more sensitive and less biased for individuals from diverse groups (e.g., ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation). Principal component and maximum likelihood factor analysis with a varimax rotation were conducted to determine the underlying structure of the SIPA. Separate analyses were conducted for adolescent and parent domains.

Factor selection was based on multiple criteria including eigen values>1, the scree test, interpretability, theoretical relevance, and psychometrics of the factor structure. Factor analysis was used to identify the scales and reduce the number of items. Higherorder factor analysis provided support for a 2-factor structure (Adolescent Domain and Parent Domain).

Construct Validity: 
Validity TypeNot knownNot foundNonclincal SamplesClinical SamplesDiverse Samples
Sensitive to ChangeYes
Intervention EffectsYes
Sensitive to Theoretically Distinct GroupsYes
References for Construct Validity: 

From the manual (Sheras et al., 1998)
1. Convergent Validity was derived from correlations between all domains of SIPA and Parenting Alliance Inventory (Abidin, 1988). n= 713; all correlations significant at p<0.01: Adolescent Domain (=-.48), Parent Domain (r=-.59); Adolescent/Parent Relationship Domain (r=-.42), Total (r=-.57). As expected, parents classified as high stress based on PSI cutoffs had significantly lower scores on the PAI than other parents did.

2. In a sample of 64 parents from the normative sample, all SIPA scales were related to aspects of the marital relationship (negative correlations with the Dyadic Adjustment Scale).

3. Validity was also examined in a clinical sample. The Adolescent Domain was significantly correlated with Child Behavior Checklist (CBCL): Internalizing (r=.53, p<.01), Externalizing (r=.59, p<.01), and Total Scores (r=.60, p<.01), whereas the Parent Domain was correlated only with Internalizing (r=.23, p<.05).

The Adolescent/Parent Relationship Domain and Index of Total Stress were both related to Internalizing, Externalizing, and Total Problems.
SIPA scores were also related to scores on the Coping Responses Inventory (with positive correlations for all SIPA scales with Cognitive Avoidance and Seeking Alternative Rewards and negative correlations for all SIPA scales, except Parent Domain, with Positive Reappraisals.

All SIPA scales were negatively correlated with the Cohesion Scale of the Family Adaptation and Cohesion Evaluation Scales III (Adolescent Domain: r=-.38, p<.01; Parent Domain: r=.29, p<.01; Adolescent/Parent Relationship Domain: r=-.52, p<.01; Total: r=-.42, p<.01).

In addition, as expected, only the Parent Domain was related to the Personality Assessment Screener (r=.50, p<.01), a measure of emotional and behavior problems in adults.

4. Discriminant Validity was established by comparing different known groups within the normative sample. All group differences were significant at p<0.001. Parents with a history of mental health treatment had higher scores than parents with no such history. Parents of adolescents with a history of mental health treatment also had higher scores than did parents of adolescents with no such history.

Group comparisons were also significant for parents of adolescents with a history of delinquent behavior and those with no such history and parents of adolescents with a history of suicidal behaviors and those with no such history.

5. Scores for a clinical sample were significantly higher than those for the normative sample. However, scores did not differentiate among clinical groups (Conduct Disorder, Oppositional Defiant Disorder, and Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder), but this may have been due to the sample size
and to comorbidity in the clinical groups.

6. As noted above under Construct Validity, the measure was developed using factor analysis.

7. Javis, Trevatt, & Drinkwater (2004) conducted a treatment outcome study of 26 participants. SIPA scores showed sensitivity to change related to treatment with pre- to post-test t-tests showing significant declines for Total Stress, Adolescent Domain and its scales, and the Adolescent-Parent Relationship Domain.

Criterion Validity Evaluated: 
Criterion Validity: 
Not KnownNot FoundNonclinical SamplesClinical SamplesDiverse Samples
Predictive Validity:Yes
Overall Psychometric Limitations: 

1. NOT A CON: As the manual notes, interpretation is based on percentiles and not Tscores because percentiles remain constant even when the sample’s distribution is skewed.

2. NOT A CON (just a statement): The measure does not appear to have been used with samples of parents of adolescents who have experienced traumatic events.

3. Although analyses of the normative sample found no difference based on parent gender or adolescent age, it does not appear that analyses were conducted to look at differences based on adolescent gender.

4. Although the normative sample included African Americans, it did not appear to include Asians or Latinos, so caution should be used when interpreting scores for these ethnic groups using the norms provided.



Population Information

Population Used for Measure Development: 

From the manual:
The normative sample included 778 parents of adolescents from 15 states in the United States, recruited from different settings including place of employment, churches, universities, medical practices, grocery stores.

Parents were aged 23 to 70 (Mean=42.58, SD=5.75) and had an average of 1.73 adolescents per household.
Education: 20.7% of parents had a graduate or professional degree, 28.7% were college graduates, 29% had a vocational or some college, 20.2% had a 9th-12th grade education, and 1.2% had a 1st-8th grade education.
Children of concern: aged 11-9 (Mean=14.94).
Reported median range of yearly household income was $50,001 to $60,000.
Ethnicity of parents: 79.5% White, 16.2% African American, 4.1% Other, and <1% Native

Use with Diverse Populations: 
Population Type: Measure Used with Members of this GroupMembers of this Group Studied in Peer-Reviewed JournalsReliableGood PsychometricsNorms AvailableMeasure Developed for this Group
1. DisabilitiesYesYes

Pros & Cons/References


1. The measure is based on the well-known and well-validated Parenting Stress Index.
2. The psychometrics presented in the manual are good: good internal consistency, testretest reliability, and established validity.
3. The measure allows for an assessment of parent-adolescent relationship functioning, which is likely to be disrupted in the event of a trauma, and would therefore be a conceptually important domain associated with child/adolescent functioning.


1. The measure is long (90 items plus 22 life-stress items) and may constitute a significant burden for participants, especially in the case of treatment outcome studies when they have to complete other measures.
2. The measure has not yet been adopted, as evidenced by our PsychInfo literature search (see “References”), despite the fact that the manual was published in 1998.
3. Although psychometrics are promising, more research is needed to examine the psychometrics with diverse populations including Latinos and Asians.
4. Caution should also be used when interpreting scores for diverse ethnic groups using the normative sample because the normative sample did not appear to include Asians or Latinos, at least not in any significant numbers.

Author Comments: 

The author provided comments, which were integrated into the review.


A PsychInfo search (7/05) of "Stress Index for Parents of Adolescents" or “SIPA” anywhere revealed that it has been referenced in 3 peer-reviewed articles. However, one did not use the measure or cite it. The other two articles are listed below.

1. Abdo, A., & Fischer, J. M. (2003). Factors relevant to parental alliance for parents of children with disabilities. Journal of Applied Rehabilitation Counseling, 34(3), 10-15.

2. Jarvis, C., Trevatt, D., & Drinkwater, D. (2004). Parenting teenagers: Setting up and evaluating a therapeutic parent consultation service: Work in progress. Clinical Child Psychology & Psychiatry, 9(2), 205-225.

Other Published References:
1. Abidin, R.R. (1992). The determinants of parenting behavior. Journal of Clinical Child Psychology, 21, 407-412.

2. Abidin, R. R. (1995). Parenting Stress Index: Professional Manual (3rd. Ed.). Odessa, FL: Psychological Assessment Resources.

3. Belsky, J. (1984). The determinants of parenting: A process model. Child Development, 55, 83-96.

4. Mash, E. J. & Johnston, C. (1990). Determinants of parenting stress: Illustrations from families of hyperactive children and families of physically abused children. Journal of Clinical Child Psychology, 19, 313-328.

5. Webster-Stratton, C. (1990). Stress: A potential disrupter of parent perceptions and family interactions. Journal of Clinical Child Psychology, 19, 302-312.

Developer of Review: 
Lorinda Ho, Chandra Ghosh Ippen, Ph.D.
Editor of Review: 
Chandra Ghosh Ippen, Ph.D.
Last Updated: 
Monday, March 10, 2014