The Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire: psychometric properties of the parent and teacher version in children aged 4-7.


BACKGROUND: The Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire is one of the most employed screening instruments. Although there is a large research body investigating its psychometric properties, reliability and validity are not yet fully tested using modern techniques. Therefore, we investigate reliability, construct validity, measurement invariance, and predictive validity of the parent and teacher version in children aged 4-7. Besides, we intend to replicate previous studies by investigating test-retest reliability and criterion validity. METHODS: In a Dutch community sample 2,238 teachers and 1,513 parents filled out questionnaires regarding problem behaviors and parenting, while 1,831 children reported on sociometric measures at T1. These children were followed-up during three consecutive years. Reliability was examined using Cronbach’s alpha and McDonald’s omega, construct validity was examined by Confirmatory Factor Analysis, and predictive validity was examined by calculating developmental profiles and linking these to measures of inadequate parenting, parenting stress and social preference. Further, mean scores and percentiles were examined in order to establish norms. RESULTS: Omega was consistently higher than alpha regarding reliability. The original five-factor structure was replicated, and measurement invariance was established on a configural level. Further, higher SDQ scores were associated with future indices of higher inadequate parenting, higher parenting stress and lower social preference. Finally, previous results on test-retest reliability and criterion validity were replicated. CONCLUSIONS: This study is the first to show SDQ scores are predictively valid, attesting to the feasibility of the SDQ as a screening instrument. Future research into predictive validity of the SDQ is warranted.