Prevalence and Correlates of Psychopathology in Children and Adolescents Evaluated with the Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire Dysregulation Profile in a Clinical Setting.


Background: The clinical presentation of children and adolescents referred to mental health services is frequently complicated by comorbid and severe affective and behavioral dysregulation. This dysregulation phenotype seems to be an indicator of overall psychopathology, symptom severity and functional impairment. Currently, this phenotype is assessed by the Child Behavior Checklist. However, the widely used Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire (SDQ) has been recently validated to screen the Dysregulation Profile (SDQ-DP) in clinical settings. The objective of this study was to determine the prevalence and demographic, psychosocial and clinical correlates of the SDQ-DP phenotype in a Spanish clinical sample. Sampling and Methods: In a clinical sample of 623 consecutively referred children and adolescents (4-17 years old), we compared clinical and sociodemographic correlates between subjects who met the SDQ-DP criteria (DP) and those who did not (NO_DP). Sociodemographic data, parent-rated SDQ, Children’s Global Assessment Scale, Clinical Global Impression, family Apgar scale and clinical diagnoses were collected by experienced child and adolescent psychiatrists. Results: Overall in our sample, 175 subjects (28.1%) met the SDQ-DP criteria (DP group). Compared with the NO_DP group, the DP subjects had significantly higher scores on internalizing and externalizing psychopathology, problems with peers and overall problems as well as significantly lower scores on prosocial behavior. Clinical diagnoses assigned revealed that DP subjects showed significantly greater psychiatric comorbidity. DP subjects also showed significantly worse family functioning and increased symptom severity and significantly lower scores on psychosocial functioning. Conclusions: A high prevalence of children and adolescents with the dysregulated profile, assessed by the SDQ-DP, was found in our clinical setting. The SDQ-DP may serve as an index of overall psychological severity and functional impairment. In addition, it may indicate family dysfunction. Further research is needed to validate the clinical value of SDQ-DP by examining longitudinal stability, heritability, adult outcome, risk factors and diagnostic correlates. (c) 2014 S. Karger AG, Basel.