SIPA Stress Index for Parents of Adolescents

Peter L. Sheras, Richard R. Abidin
Authors of the original manual:
Peter L. Sheras, Richard R. Abidin, Timothy R. Konold
Polish adaptation and manual:
Joanna Niedziela, Emilia Wrocławska-Warchala (2022)
Parents of children aged 11 to 17
Administration procedure:
Individual or group, without time limit, average time needed to complete the inventory: 25-30 minutes
Especially useful for:
Psychologists (MA in Psychology required), other specialists working with children and their parents, such as educators, psychiatrists, pediatric and psychiatric nurses (special training in psychometrics and method required)
B2 – for psychologists; other professionals only after general psychometric training and test training

The tool is designed to measure the intensity of parental stress in parents of adolescents. Parental stress is understood here as a set of processes leading to aversive psychological and physiological reactions, resulting from the attempt to adapt to the requirements of parenthood. The inventory focuses on three main sources: related to the characteristics of the adolescent, related to the characteristics of the parent and the features of the relationship between them. It also allows to measure situational/demographic factors outside the parent-adolescent relationship, which may affect the intensity of the parent's stress.

SIPA consists of 112 items, 90 of which are included in three main scales – the Adolescent scale, the Parent scale and the Adolescent-Parent Relationship scale.

The Adolescent scale includes the following subscales:

  • Moodiness / Emotional Lability (LAB) – measures how a parent perceives their child's mood swing. The items also refer to the energy resources possessed by the parent, needed to cope with the moods and emotional lability of the adolescent.
  • Social isolation (IZO) – measures a parent's perception of an adolescent’s social isolation, concerns about his/her lack of social competences, interpersonal development and responses in social situations.
  • Delinquency/Antisocial Behavior (AS) – measures the level of stress experienced by a parent as a result of an adolescent’s violating social behavior rules and committing crimes
  • Failure to Achieve or Persevere (BOW) – measures how a parent perceives a teenager's lack of perseverance in achieving goals: low motivation at school and a general inability to complete tasks.

 The Parent scale includes the following subscales:

  • Life Restrictions (OR) – measures the extent to which the subject perceives the responsibilities of the adolescent's parent as limiting his/her other roles, as well as the extent to which – in the subject’s perception - the adolescent's needs and behaviors force the parent to sacrifice his/her own needs and desires.
  • Relationship with Spouse/Partner (RP) – measures the extent to which a parent experiences respect, trust and cooperation in a relationship with a partner in parenting.
  • Social Alienation (ALI) – measures how alienated a parent feels and to what extent s/he lacks social support and help in fulfilling parental responsibilities.
  • Incompetence /Guilt (PBK) – measures the extent to which a parent experiences anxiety and self-doubt and problems while enforcing ordinary requests from the adolescent; the score on a subscale does not reflect the actual competence possessed by the parent, but rather the subjective sense of competence associated with the difficult emotions experienced in connection with parenthood. 

The scores in the Parent and Adolescent scales reflect the content of their component subscales:

  • The Parent scale measures how overwhelmed a parent is with parental responsibilities and has difficulty coping with them.
  • The Adolescent scale measures the level of stress experienced by a parent related to the specific characteristics of an adolescent.
  • The Parent-Adolescent Relationship scale measures how close and mutually supportive relationship a parent has with his/her child; the absence of such a relationship is a major risk factor of dysfunctional parenting.

The Adolescent, Parent, and Relationship Between Parent and Adolescent scales together form the Total Parenting Stress Index.

For the first 90 items, the subject responds on a five-point scale.

The remaining 22 items form an additional Life Stressors scale, allowing the identification of sources of stress outside the parent-child system (e.g. divorce, starting a new job, death of an immediate family member, serious injury or health problem). In this case, the respondent answers YES or NO – depending on whether the event took place during the 12 months preceding the assessment.

Reliability: High internal consistency of scales (from 0.88 to 0.94) and subscales (all values reach at least the threshold of 0.80); very high in the case of the Total Parenting Stress Index (0.97). Both the Total Parenting Stress Index and all scales and subscales are also characterized by the high test-retest stability (with retest after 4 weeks).

Validity: To verify the validity of the Adolescent scale, which measures stress associated with aspects of an adolescent child functioning, correlations with measures of disorders in children (CDI-2, Conners 3, SENA) were evaluated. Correlations of the Life Stressors scale in the SIPA with the overall measure of currently experienced stress PSS-10 and with the measure of stress personality DS14 was also checked. Most of the expected correlations for the SIPA scales and subscales have been proved, especially those of the Adolescent scale with symptoms of disorders in children scales. In addition, on the basis of studies involving clinical groups it was found that, as expected, the intensity of parenting stress measured by the SIPA is higher in the groups of parents of children with disorders (the clinical group included parents of children with diagnoses of mood disorders, ADHD and Autism Spectrum Disorders).

Norms: T-scores and percentile norms, combined for mothers and fathers. The sample included 542 parents of adolescents (281 mothers and 261 fathers), selected so that an equal part of the group were parents of girls and boys and that parents of children of different ages were equally represented (for each year of the child's life, a similar number of parents was included in the sample).

Applicability: The SIPA inventory can be applied to plan and evaluate the effectiveness of family therapy, as well as in programs aimed at increasing parental competence to identify areas that cause difficulties for a parent, including in prevention programs focused on early intervention – parental stress has been shown to be crucial in the development of dysfunctional relationships between parents and adolescents and to be a significant risk factor for the development of disorders in both parents and adolescents.

•  SIPA is applied to identify problem areas in the parent-child system, as well as to determine whether therapeutic interventions should focus on the child, the parent, or their relationship.

• Since high levels of parenting stress are associated with a parent's premature withdrawal from child therapy or non-compliance with doctors' recommendations, SIPA can help prevent such situations through parent-directed intervention.

The SIPA inventory can be particularly useful for assessment of parents:

  • reporting educational difficulties;
  • single parents or those who have difficulties in their relationship with their partner in parenthood and in establishing a parental alliance;
  • raising children with diagnoses of neuro-developmental disorders, mood disorders and other health problems to assess the intensity of stress associated with raising a child requiring special parental involvement;
  • foster and adoptive parents to determine the type of support needed for the family and/or to assess the possibility of admitting another child to the family.


  • Kit: original manual, Polish manual, question sheets (25 cop.), multi-layer answer sheets (25 cop.)
  • Original manual (translated into Polish)
  • Polish manual
  • SIPA question sheets (25 cop.)
  • Multilayer SIPA answer sheets together with key and profile with Polish norms (25 cop.)
Please note: All of our tests are published in Polish. There are not available other language versions of our tools.

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