The Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire (SDQ) is a brief behavioural screening questionnaire about 3-16 year
olds. It exists in several versions to meet the needs of researchers,
clinicians and educationalists. Each version includes between one
and three of the following components:
What is the SDQ?
A) 25 items on psychological attributes.
All versions of the SDQ ask about 25 attributes, some positive and others
negative. These 25 items are divided between 5 scales:
|1) emotional symptoms (5 items)
||1) to 4) added together to
generate a total
(based on 20 items)
|2) conduct problems (5 items)|
|3) hyperactivity/inattention (5 items)|
|4) peer relationship problems (5 items)|
|5) prosocial behaviour (5 items)|
The same 25 items are included in questionnaires for completion by the
parents or teachers of 4-16 year olds
A slightly modified informant-rated version for the parents or nursery
teachers of 3 (and 4) year olds. 22 items are identical, the item on
reflectiveness is softened, and 2 items on antisocial behaviour are
replaced by items on oppositionality.
In low-risk or general population samples, it may be better to use an alternative three-subscale division of the SDQ into
'internalising problems' (emotional+peer symptoms, 10 items), 'externalising problems' (conduct+hyperactivity symptoms, 10
items) and the prosocial scale (5 items) (
Goodman et al, 2010).
Questionnaires for self-completion by adolescents ask about the same 25 traits, though the wording is slightly
different (Goodman et al, 1998).
This self-report version is suitable for young people aged around 11-16,
depending on their level of understanding and literacy.
B) An impact supplement
Several two-sided versions of the SDQ are available with the 25 items on
strengths and difficulties on the front of the page and an impact supplement
on the back. These extended versions of the SDQ ask whether the respondent
thinks the young person has a problem, and if so, enquire further about
chronicity, distress, social impairment, and burden to others. This
provides useful additional information for clinicians and researchers with
an interest in psychiatric caseness and the determinants of service use
C) Follow-up questions
The follow-up versions of the SDQ include not only the 25 basic items and
the impact question, but also two additional follow-up questions for use
after an intervention. Has the intervention reduced problems? Has the
intervention helped in other ways, e.g. making the problems more bearable?
To increase the chance of detecting change, the follow-up versions of the
SDQ ask about 'the last month', as opposed to 'the last six months or this
school year', which is the reference period for the standard versions.
Follow-up versions also omit the question about the chronicity of problems.
Last modified : 01/01/12