At YouthinMind USA, we recognize the time, talent, and passion you offer your students on a daily basis. Our mission is to provide you with the tools you need to do that at the highest possible level. Below is an overview of the Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire (SDQ), an essential resource for educational professionals serving youth and families in our communities. The SDQ can help you identify those who might otherwise go unnoticed.

The SDQ is a brief psychological assessment tool for 2-17 year olds. It exists in several versions to meet the needs of researchers, clinicians, and educators.

  • Proven: Over 4000 studies conducted using the SDQ. Over 5,000,000 tests administered.
  • Accessible: Available in over 75 Languages
  • Affordable: Can be administered by non-clinical staff. Unlimited testing plans offered.

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 scales: 

  • The same 25 items are included in questionnaires for completion by the parents or teachers of 4-16 year olds (Goodman, 1997).
  • 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 behavior are replaced by items on oppositionality.
  • 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.

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 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 (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.