The Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire (SDQ) as a screening measure prior to admission to a Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service (CAMHS)

John Mathai, Peter John Anderson, Angela Bourne

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearch


The objective of this study was to evaluate the usefulness of the Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire (SDQ) as a routine measure to screen for emotional and behavioural disorders in children and adolescents referred to a community child and adolescent mental health service (CAMHS). Health of the Nation Outcome Scales for Children and Adolescents (HoNOSCA) were also utilised and the correlation between the two instruments was examined. The study was conducted with 130 consecutive new CAMHS attendees. Clinicians, parents, teachers and children (if aged 11 years or older) completed questionnaires at initial attendance. According to parents, 85% of children and adolescents referred exhibited moderate to severe behavioural/emotional problems, and 82% had a SDQ impact score in the abnormal range.
Teachers’ ratings generally indicated less severe problems. Teachers rated 60% of the children in the moderate to severe range and 61% had an impact score in the abnormal range. Self- reports from the older-aged children showed that 67% rated themselves to be in the moderate to severe range. Fifty two percent rated themselves in the abnormal range for impact. Moderate inter-test (HoNOSCA and SDQ) and inter-rater (SDQ) correlations were found. The findings are consistent with similar studies conducted in the U.K. In conclusion, the SDQ is sensitive in detecting emotional and behavioural problems and may be utilised to screen referrals at intake.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-12
Number of pages12
JournalAustralian e-Journal for the Advancement of Mental Health
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2002
Externally publishedYes


  • child
  • adolescent
  • Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire
  • SDQ

Cite this