The Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire (SDQ) is a brief mental health screening tool for 2-25 year olds. It is designed to identify those who may be struggling early on, before they reach a crisis level. It exists in several versions to meet the needs of schools, researchers, and clinicians.

  • Proven:
    • Over 4,000 research articles conducted using the SDQ.
    • Over 5 Million SDQs administered.
  • Accessible:
    • Online administration and automatic scoring.
    • Available in over 75 Languages.
    • 5-7 minutes to complete
  • Affordable:
    • $1 per questionnaire.
    • Can be administered by clinical &  non-clinical staff.
    • Unlimited screening plans offered.

sdq 300x114 - What is the SDQ?

Each version includes between one and three of the following components:

  1. 25 items on psychological attributes
  2. An impact supplement
  3. Follow-up questions

1) 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 sub-scales: 

  • emotional symptoms
  • conduct/behavioral symptoms
  • hyperactivity/inattention
  • peer relationships
  • prosocial behavior

In low-risk or general population samples, it may be better to use an alternative three sub-scale division of the SDQ into ‘internalising problems’ (emotional+peer symptoms, 10 items), ‘externalizing problems’ (conduct+hyperactivity symptoms, 10 items) and the pro-social scale (5 items) (Goodman et. al., 2010).

2) An impact supplement

These extended versions of the SDQ ask whether the respondent thinks they are struggling, and if so, inquire 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 (Goodman, 1999).

3) 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.