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Br J Psychiatry. 2000 Dec;177:534-9.

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

Author information

1
Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, Institute of Psychiatry, King's College London, UK.

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% Cl 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.

PMID:
11102329
DOI:
10.1192/bjp.177.6.534
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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