The Parental Stress Scale (PSS) is an 18-item questionnaire assessing parents’ feelings about their parenting role, exploring both positive aspects (e.g. emotional benefits, personal development) and negative aspects of parenthood (e.g. demands on resources, feelings of stress).

The PSS was developed by Judy Berry and Warren Jones (1995) and can be used to assess outcomes of interventions designed to support parenting efficacy of mothers, fathers and/or carers of children across a wide age range.

Terms of use

The PSS is in the public domain, and can be used free of charge in both pen/pencil form as well as digitally/remotely (see below for an editable PDF version). Adaptations and derivatives are not authorised without written permission from the developer. Please register your use of the measure with the author and copyright owner:

Judy O. Berry, EdD, Professor Emerita of Psychology, The University of Tulsa: judy-berry@utulsa.edu

Authorisation from the copyright owner should be gained before incorporating the PSS into any electronic system.



The PSS can be completed by both parents or carers of children and young people of any age.  

We are not currently aware of any evidence regarding the accessibility of this measure for adults with learning disabilities.

To our knowledge no study has been published regarding the suitability of the measure across different ethnic or linguistic groups.

Please do get in touch at CORC@annafreud.org if you are aware of any information that may be of interest to users of the PSS as we may be able to update our webpage to include it. 


The PSS is brief and can be completed in less than 10 minutes. It is an 18-item self-report measure in which parents respond to statements about their typical relationship with their child. The possible range of the PSS is 18 (low stress) to 90 (high stress). It can be completed by both parents, but they should complete the questionnaire separately. It can also be completed in the context of an individual child or all the children in the family. In the case of households with more than one child, parents should provide responses about their typical relationship with their child or children.

The PSS is intended to be used for the assessment of parental stress for both mothers and fathers and for parents of children with and without clinical problems. It contains various measures of stress, emotion and role satisfaction, including perceived stress, work/family stress, loneliness, anxiety, guilt, marital satisfaction/commitment, job satisfaction, and social support. There are no right or wrong answers and questions need to be asked as they are written in the questionnaire. It can be completed independently, or the practitioner can read the questions out to the parent. Please avoid value judgements, even if you believe the responses provided are not honest or accurate.

Working remotely

We have received permission from the author and copyright owner to produce and share an electronically editable PDF version of the PSS for remote working purposes. Please see here to access this version.

Scoring & Interpretation

Respondents indicate how much they agree or disagree to each of the 18 statements. Responses are scored as follows:

Strongly disagree = 1
Disagree = 2
Undecided = 3
Agree = 4
Strongly agree = 5

To compute the parental stress score, items 1, 2, 5, 6, 7, 8, 17, and 18 should be reverse scored as follows: (1=5) (2=4) (3=3) (4=2) (5=1). The item scores are then summed.

Parental stress scores range from 18 to 90, with lower scores indicating lower levels of parental stress.

Normative data is available for Portugal (Algarvio et al. 2018).

Psychometric properties




Internal consistency

Degree to which similar items within a scale correlate with each other.

Good internal consistency of the PSS was found across a range of samples (Berry & Jones, 1995; Zelman et al. 2018; Algarvio et al. 2018; Pontoppidan et al. 2017; Leung & Tsang (2010).

Construct validity

Degree to which the questionnaire actually measures the specific trait or attribute it is intended to measure.

A four-factor structure of the PSS was suggested based on a US sample (Berry & Jones, 1995), Portuguese sample (Algarvio et al. 2018) and Canadian sample (Zelman et al. 2018).

However, Pontoppidan et al. (2018) and Harding et al. (2020) reported an adequate fit of a 2-factor structure.

Test-retest reliability

Degree to which the same respondents have the same score after period of time when trait shouldn't have changed.

Berry & Jones (1995) reported good test–retest correlation over a 6-week period.

Convergent validity

Degree to which two measures of constructs that theoretically should be related are in fact related.

Zelman et al. (2018) reported evidence of

convergent validity between the PSS and family functioning, parental anxiety, and depression.

Concurrent validity

Correlation of the measure with others measuring the same concept.

Berry & Jones (1995) reported high correlations between the PSS and the Perceived Stress Scale in a US sample. Harding et al. (2020) also reported positive correlations between the PSS and the Parenting Stress Index IV Short form.

Discriminant validity

Lack of correlation with opposite concepts.

Zelman et al. (2018) reported a lack of correlations between the PSS and measures of child’s quality of life.


  • Sethi, Gandhi, and Anand (2012) also translated the PSS into Hindi for use in a study in which Indian parents/carers of children with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) were compared to Indian parents/carers of children without a clinical diagnosis.
  • Cheung (2000) translated the scale into Chinese for a study with parents in Hong Kong.
  • Baker, Perilla, and Norris (2001) translated the measure into Spanish
  • The Danish PSS is available to researchers and clinicians free of charge upon request. Please contact the corresponding author: mpo@vive.dk
  • Psychometric properties of the Danish Parental Stress Scale: Rasch analysis in a sample of mothers with infants Pontoppidan, Maiken; Nielsen, Tine; Rayce, Signe Lynne Boe


Algarvio, S., Leal, I., & Maroco, J. (2018). Parental stress scale: validation study with a Portuguese population of parents of children from 3 to 10 years old. Journal of Child Health Care, 22(4), 563-576.

Berry, J. O., & Jones, W. H. (1995). The parental stress scale: Initial psychometric evidence. Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, 12(3), 463-472.

Harding, L., Murray, K., Shakespeare‐Finch, J., & Frey, R. (2020). Understanding the Parental Stress Scale With a Foster Carer Cohort. Family Relations, 69(4), 865-879.

Leung, C., & Tsang, S. K. (2010). The Chinese parental stress scale: psychometric evidence using Rasch modeling on clinical and nonclinical samples. Journal of personality assessment, 92(1), 26-34.

Pontoppidan, M., Nielsen, T., & Kristensen, I. H. (2018). Psychometric properties of the Danish Parental Stress Scale: Rasch analysis in a sample of mothers with infants. PloS one, 13(11), e0205662.

Zelman, J. J., & Ferro, M. A. (2018). The parental stress scale: psychometric properties in families of children with chronic health conditions. Family Relations, 67(2), 240-252.

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