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The Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire Self-Report: A Valid Instrument for the Identification of Emotional and Behavioral Problems

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Author: Theunissen, M.H.C. · Wolff, M.S. de · Reijneveld, S.A.
Source:Academic Pediatrics, 4, 19, 471-476
Identifier: 862066
doi: doi:10.1016/j.acap.2018.12.008/
Keywords: Adolescents · Emotional and behavioral problems · Screening · Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire · Life · CH - Child Health


Objective: Validated questionnaires help community pediatric services to identify emotional and behavioral problems (EBPs). This study assesses the psychometric properties of the self-report version of the Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire (SDQ) for the identification of EBPs in adolescents (13 to 14 years old) and the added value of the SDQ parent-form version. Methods: We obtained data on 500 adolescents (mean age 13.5 years) from community well-child services and schools. Adolescents completed the SDQ self-report and the Youth Self-Report (YSR). Parents completed the SDQ parent-form and the Child Behavior Checklist (CBCL) for their children. We assessed the internal consistency and validity using the YSR and CBCL as the criteria, and the degree to which the SDQ parent-form provides additional information by comparison with the self-report. Results: The internal consistency of the SDQ total score was good (Cronbach's alpha, 0.75). Sensitivity and specificity using the YSR as the criterion were 0.75 and 0.91, respectively. When the CBCL was adopted as the criterion, these validity indices were lower. The SDQ parent-form does not provide additional information by comparison with self-reporting only when the YSR score is used as the criterion (odds ratio, 0.48; 95% confidence interval, 0.14-1.65); however, it does do so when the CBCL is the criterion (odds ratio, 10.9; 95% confidence interval, 4.23-27.9). Conclusions: The SDQ self-report is valid for the detection of EBPs in adolescents, and the SDQ parent-form provides additional information by comparison with the self-report. This indicates that it is useful to involve adolescents and their parents as informants for the identification of EBPs in adolescents. © 2019