Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire

The SDQ is designed for general behavioral health screening of children 3 to 16 years of age, consisting of a one-page form of 25 items. There are three age-group forms (3-4 year olds, 5-10 year olds, and 11-16 year olds) as well as three respondent versions (parent, teacher, and self, for 11-16 year olds).

Responses to 20 of the 25 items generate a "total difficulties" score, based on subscale scores in "emotional symptoms," "conduct problems," "hyperactivity," and "peer problems," which are derived first. In addition, this tool provides a "pro-social behavior" (strengths) subscale score. For the purpose of the CBHI, the primary care provider can base the determination of a patient's need for services on the parent/guardian or self reported "total difficulties" score; however, the subscale scores may be clinically useful as well. Variations of the basic form are also available, and providers may find them of value for a more detailed picture of a patient's behavioral health status.

Overview of Scoring

The SDQ takes the parent/guardian or youth approximately five minutes to complete. Each item is reported as "not true," "somewhat true," and "certainly true." Multiple scoring methods provided fall into two categories: hand-scoring or computer-based. Providers should expect some time will be needed to learn how to score this tool, but it should be fairly easy to score once it is familiar.

The SDQ is copyrighted but available for free at www.sdqinfo.com. It is translated into over 60 languages. English (USA) must be selected, as it is not the default language.


For more information about SDQ.


This information is provided by MassHealth.