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Questionnaire screening for mental health problems in Bangladeshi children: a preliminary study.

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Department of Psychiatry, Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University, Dhaka, Bangladesh.



In the developing world, child psychiatric disorders are common but child mental health professionals are scarce. A cheap and effective method for detecting child psychiatric problems would be useful. The present study examined the potential suitability of the Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire (SDQ) for this role.


SDQs were administered to the parents and teachers of 261 Bangladeshi 4-16 year olds: 99 drawn from a psychiatric clinic and 162 drawn from the community. Self-report SDQs were completed by 11-16 year olds. Children from the clinic sample were assigned psychiatric diagnoses blind to their SDQ scores.


SDQ scores distinguished well between community and clinic samples, and also between children with different psychiatric diagnoses in the clinic sample. A simple algorithm based on SDQ scores was used to predict whether children had hyperkinesis, conduct disorders, emotional disorders or any psychiatric disorder--rates of predicted disorder varied markedly between clinic and community samples.


Predictions based on multi-informant SDQs potentially provide a cheap and easy method for detecting children in the developing world with significant mental health problems. The potential effectiveness of any such screening programme should be evaluated on a broad range of children, using both international and culture-specific assessments.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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