Protocol - Family Interpersonal Relationships

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The Family Interpersonal Relationships protocol includes 27 self-administered, true/false questions from three subscales (Cohesion, Expressiveness, and Conflict) of the Family Environment Scale (FES), Fourth Edition. The respondent reviews each item and chooses whether each item is characteristic (true) or not characteristic (false) of his or her family. The FES Manual includes a scoring key for each true/false item. This protocol is appropriate for adults and children aged 11 years and older.

Specific Instructions

The Family Environment Scale (FES) is a proprietary instrument. Each Family Environment subscale is a part of a complete FES assessment and is not sold separately. To administer a subscale requires a licensing agreement from Mind Garden, Inc. While the Social Environments Working Group recognizes that there are many definitions of family, the FES is intended for use among parents and children. Parents may include both biological and nonbiological (e.g., step- or adoptive) relationships.


Limited Availability


Summary of the Cohesion, Expressiveness, and Conflict Subscales from the Family Environment Scale

The Family Interpersonal Relationships measure contains three subscales: Cohesion (nine questions), Expressiveness (nine questions), and Conflict (nine questions).

These three subscales tap the degree of commitment and support family members provide for one another, the extent to which family members are encouraged to express their feelings directly, and the amount of openly expressed anger and conflict among family members.

The test booklets feature three types of forms. The Real Form items ask the respondent to describe his or her current family as he or she perceives it. Real Form items can also be used to describe a respondent’s past family environment (i.e., childhood environment).

The Ideal Form and Expectations Form allow people to describe the type of family they prefer or their expectations of what a family will be like. The Ideal Form and Expectations Form are typically used in therapeutic settings and are not generally considered for research purposes.

Scoring Instructions

Each true/false item is assigned a value of 0 or 1, based on the scoring key. Items are then combined within the three subscales (Cohesion, Expressiveness, and Conflict). To combine these subscales into a single Family Interpersonal Relationships Scale score, the Conflict subscale must first be reverse coded, and then the subscales can be summed or averaged. Higher scores reflect more-positive Family Interpersonal Relationships.

The Social Environments Working Group recommends the use of the raw scores from the Real Form (or their standardized counterparts) that can be further averaged across family members for an overall measure of global family environment. The Family Environments Scale Manual contains directions for creating Family Incongruence scores, based on differences in scores across family members, but these scores are primarily utilized in therapeutic settings and generally are not validated for research.

Family Environment Scale Copyright © 2009, Mind Garden, Inc. All rights reserved.

Personnel and Training Required

No specific training is needed if data are collected through a self-administered questionnaire.

Equipment Needs

These questions can be administered in a computerized or noncomputerized format (i.e., paper-and pencil instrument). Computer software is necessary to develop computer-assisted instruments. The interviewer will require a laptop computer or handheld computer to administer or to allow the respondent to self-administer a computer-assisted questionnaire.

Requirement CategoryRequired
Major equipment No
Specialized training No
Specialized requirements for biospecimen collection No
Average time of greater than 15 minutes in an unaffected individual No
Mode of Administration

Self-administered questionnaire


Adolescent, Adult


Adolescents and adults, aged 11 years and older

Selection Rationale

The Family Environment Scale (FES), Fourth Edition was selected because it is a widely used, validated protocol with available current research on its validity, reliability, and association with outcomes. Additionally, the FES Manual contains detailed data on transforming raw scores into standardized scores based on extensive normative data. Means are also given for various subpopulations (e.g., adults vs. adolescents, distressed vs. nondistressed families, single-parent families, Latino and African-American families). Because the FES assesses general characteristics of the family rather than behaviors in a specific time frame, this measure is appropriate both for assessments of current family environment and retrospective reports of family environment during childhood.


Chinese, English, Other languages available at source

Logical Observation Identifiers Names and Codes (LOINC) Fam interpersonal relat proto 63022-8 LOINC
Derived Variables


Process and Review

The Expert Review Panel #2 (ERP 2) reviewed the measures in the Demographics, Environmental Exposures, and Social Environments domains.

Guidance from ERP 2 includes:

• Revised descriptions of the measure

Back-compatible: no changes to Data Dictionary

Previous version in Toolkit archive (link)

Protocol Name from Source

Family Environment Scale (FES), 2009


Moos, R., & Moos, B. (2009). Family Environment Scale Manual and Sampler Set: Development, Applications and Research (4th ed.). Palo Alto, CA: Mind Garden, Inc.

The Family Environment Scale (4th ed.) is a proprietary instrument and can be obtained through:

Mind Garden, Inc.
855 Oak Grove Ave., Suite 215
Menlo Park, CA 94025 USA
Telephone: 650.322.6300

General References

Moos, R. (1990). Conceptual and empirical approaches to developing family-based assessment procedures: Resolving the case of the Family Environment Scale. Family Process, 29, 199-208.

Moos, R., & Moos, B. (1994). Family Environment Scale Manual: Development, applications, research (3rd ed.). Palo Alto, CA: Consulting Psychologists Press.

Protocol ID


Export Variables
Variable Name Variable IDVariable DescriptiondbGaP Mapping
PX210601000000 Protocol 210601 - proprietary. Check DCW for more
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Social Environments
Measure Name

Family Interpersonal Relationships

Release Date

October 8, 2010


This measure is a questionnaire to assess the quality of interpersonal relationships within a family.


This measure is used to assess each family member’s perception of the cohesion (support and commitment), expressiveness, and conflict associated with his or her family.


Social environments, interpersonal relationships, family environment, cohesion, expressiveness, conflict, support, commitment, Family Environment Scale, FES, proprietary

Measure Protocols
Protocol ID Protocol Name
210601 Family Interpersonal Relationships

Gonzalez, R., et al. (2021) An update on the assessment of culture and environment in the ABCD Study (R): Emerging literature and protocol updates over three measurement waves. Developmental Cognitive Neuroscience. 2021 December; 52: 101021. doi: 10.1016/j.dcn.2021.101021

Brislin, S. J., et al. (2021) Heterogeneity Within Youth With Childhood-Onset Conduct Disorder in the ABCD Study. Frontiers in Psychiatry. 2021 July; 12: 1-13. doi: 10.3389/fpsyt.2021.701199