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Evaluating the Index of Family Relations

Evaluating the Index of Family Relations

Evaluating the Index of Family Relations (IFR) scale and its suitability for use with BME families

Start Date:  Mar 2009   End Date:  Dec 2009   Status: Completed


Psychometric tools are often only validated with white populations which can create difficulties for researchers and practitioners working with diverse families. The Index of Family Relations is a 25-item global measure of family functioning developed in the USA. This scale has been used by the UK-based organisation Family Action to evaluate the support work it carries out, under the name Building Bridges, with families affected by parental mental health problems and other complex needs since 2004. Family Action received funding from the DCSF to research how the IFR could be made more user-friendly overall, but in particular when implemented with BME communities. IHHD, with colleagues in the Schools of Psychology and Education, were uniquely placed to carry out this work with their track record of working with diverse communities within London, carrying out policy relevant work, and psychometric testing.


  • To explore the reliability and validity of the Index of Family Relations (IFR) and assess its user-friendliness;
  • To explore how the scale could be made more appropriate for use with BME families; and
  • To make recommendations to Family Action regarding the best options for measuring improvements in family functioning in the future.


  • Systematic searches to identify existing studies that described the adaptation and validation of the IFR for use with BME families.
  • Adaptation of the IFR in consultation with staff at Family Action and within the copyright laws governing the use of IFR.
  • Translation of the adapted version of the IFR into Bengali.
  • Evaluation of the tool from the perspectives of the Building Bridges staff using it.
  • Principal Component Analysis to examine the reliability of the scale with data on the IFR from a sample of nearly 200 cases collected by Family Action.

Main Findings:


Three months after the introduction of the new version of the IFR there was some evidence of an improvement in the ease of administration of the IFR for practitioners and in the ease of completion for clients.

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Project Lead:


Professor Angela Harden (left), Eva Lloyd

Project Team: Professor Angela Harden, Eva Lloyd (Principal Investigators), Mark McDermott (Co-Investigator), Sylvia Potter, Zahirun Sayeed

Funder: Family Action

Report: A final version of the report can be found here

For more information, contact: Angela Harden

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