Using the Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire (SDQ) to screen for child psychiatric disorders in a community sample

R Goodman, T Ford, H Simmons, R Gatward, H Meltzer

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1289 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Background Child psychiatric disorders are common and treatable, but often go undetected and therefore remain untreated. Aims To assess the Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire (SDQ) as a potential means for improving the detection of child psychiatric disorders in the community. Method SDQ predictions and independent psychiatric diagnoses were compared in a community sample of 7984 5- to 15-year-olds from the 1999 British Child Mental Health Survey. Results Multi-informant (parents, teachers, older children) SDQs identified individuals with a psychiatric diagnosis with a specificity of 94.6% (95% CI 94.1-95.1%) and a sensitivity of 63.3% (59.7-66.9%). The questionnaires identified over 70% of individuals with conduct. hyperactivity, depressive and some anxiety disorders, but under 50% of individuals with specific phobias, separation anxiety and eating disorders. Sensitivity was substantially poorer with single-informant rather than multi-informant SDQs. Conclusions Community screening programmes based on multi-informant SDQs could potentially increase the detection of child psychiatric disorders, thereby improving access to effective treatments.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)534 - 539
Number of pages6
JournalBritish Journal of Psychiatry
Volume177
Issue numberDEC.
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2000

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