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1.  Screening Foster Children for Mental Disorders: Properties of the Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(7):e102134.
High prevalence of mental disorders among foster children highlight the need to examine the mental health of children placed out of home. We examined the properties of the Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire (SDQ) in screening school-aged foster children for mental disorders.
Foster parents and teachers of 279 foster children completed the SDQ and the diagnostic interview Developmental and Well-Being Assessment (DAWBA). Using the diagnoses derived from the DAWBA as the standard, we examined the performance of the SDQ scales as dimensional measures of mental health problems using receiver operating characteristic (ROC) analyses. Recommended cut-off scores were derived from ROC coordinates. The SDQ predictive algorithms were also examined.
ROC analyses supported the screening properties of the SDQ Total difficulties and Impact scores (AUC = 0.80–0.83). Logistic regression analyses showed that the prevalence of mental disorders increased linearly with higher SDQ Total difficulties scores (X2 = 121.47, df = 13, p<.001) and Impact scores (X2 = 69.93, df = 6, p<.001). Our results indicated that there is an additive value of combining the scores from the Total difficulties and Impact scales, where scores above cut-off on any of the two scales predicted disorders with high sensitivity (89.1%), but moderate specificity (62.1%). Scores above cut-off on both scales yielded somewhat lower sensitivity (73.4%), but higher specificity (81.1%). The SDQ multi-informant algorithm showed low discriminative ability for the main diagnostic categories, with an exception being the SDQ Conduct subscale, which accurately predicted the absence of behavioural disorders (LHR− = 0.00).
The results support the use of the SDQ Total difficulties and Impact scales when screening foster children for mental health problems. Cut-off values for both scales are suggested. The SDQ multi-informant algorithms are not recommended for mental health screening of foster children in Norway.
PMCID: PMC4090209  PMID: 25006669
2.  The validity of the Child Health Utility instrument (CHU9D) as a routine outcome measure for use in child and adolescent mental health services 
Few cost-utility studies of child and adolescent mental health services (CAMHS) use quality adjusted life years (a combination of utility weights and time in health state) as the outcome to enable comparison across disparate programs and modalities. Part of the solution to this problem involves embedding preference-based health-related quality of life (PBHRQOL) utility instruments, which generate utility weights, in clinical practice and research. The Child Health Utility (CHU9D) is a generic PBHRQOL instrument developed specifically for use in young people. The purpose of this study was to assess the suitability of the CHU9D as a routine outcome measure in CAMHS clinical practice.
Two hundred caregivers of children receiving community mental health services completed the CHU9D alongside a standardised child and adolescent mental health measure (the Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire – SDQ) during a telephone interview. We investigated face validity, practicality, internal consistency, and convergent validity of the CHU9D. In addition, we compared the utility weights obtained in this group with utility weights from other studies of child and adolescent mental health populations.
Participants found the CHU9D easy and quick to complete. It demonstrated acceptable internal consistency, and correlated moderately with the SDQ. It was able to discriminate between children in the abnormal range and those in the non-clinical/borderline range as measured by the SDQ. Three CHU9D items without corollaries in the SDQ (sleep, schoolwork, daily routine) were found to be significant predictors of the SDQ total score and may be useful clinical metrics. The mean utility weight of this sample was comparable with clinical subsamples from other CHU9D studies, but was significantly higher than mean utility weights noted in other child and adolescent mental health samples.
Initial validation suggests further investigation of the CHU9D as a routine outcome measure in CAMHS is warranted. Further investigation should explore test-retest reliability, sensitivity to change, concordance between caregiver and child-completed forms, and the calibration of the utility weights. Differences between utility weights generated by the CHU9D and other utility instruments in this population should be further examined by administering a range of PBHRQOL instruments concurrently in a mental health group.
PMCID: PMC4340862  PMID: 25890377
Health related quality of life; Child and adolescent mental health services; Validation
3.  Assessing the diagnostic accuracy of the identification of hyperkinetic disorders following the introduction of government guidelines in England 
Previous studies have suggested that both underdiagnosis and overdiagnosis routinely occur in ADHD and hyperkinesis (hyperkinetic disorders). England has introduced governmental guidelines for these disorders' detection and treatment, but there has been no study on clinical diagnostic accuracy under such a regime.
All open cases in three Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) in the South East of England were assessed for accuracy in the detection of hyperkinetic disorders, using a two-stage process employing the Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire (SDQ) for screening, with the cut-off between "unlikely" and "possible" as the threshold for identification, and the Development And Well-Being Assessment (DAWBA) as a valid and reliable standard.
502 cases were collected. Their mean age 11 years (std dev 3 y); 59% were clinically diagnosed as having a hyperkinetic disorder including ADHD. Clinicians had missed two diagnoses of hyperkinesis and six of ADHD. The only 'false positive' case was one that had become asymptomatic on appropriate treatment.
The identification of children with hyperkinetic disorders by three ordinary English CAMHS teams appears now to be generally consistent with that of a validated, standardised assessment. It seems likely that this reflects the impact of Governmental guidelines, which could therefore be an appropriate tool to ensure consistent accurate diagnosis internationally.
PMCID: PMC2586016  PMID: 18983672
4.  Is Using the Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire in a Community Sample the Optimal Way to Assess Mental Health Functioning? 
PLoS ONE  2016;11(1):e0144039.
An important characteristic of a screening tool is its discriminant ability or the measure’s accuracy to distinguish between those with and without mental health problems. The current study examined the inter-rater agreement and screening concordance of the parent and teacher versions of SDQ at scale, subscale and item-levels, with the view of identifying the items that have the most informant discrepancies; and determining whether the concordance between parent and teacher reports on some items has the potential to influence decision making. Cross-sectional data from parent and teacher reports of the mental health functioning of a community sample of 299 students with and without disabilities from 75 different primary schools in Perth, Western Australia were analysed. The study found that: a) Intraclass correlations between parent and teacher ratings of children’s mental health using the SDQ at person level was fair on individual child level; b) The SDQ only demonstrated clinical utility when there was agreement between teacher and parent reports using the possible or 90% dichotomisation system; and c) Three individual items had positive likelihood ratio scores indicating clinical utility. Of note was the finding that the negative likelihood ratio or likelihood of disregarding the absence of a condition when both parents and teachers rate the item as absent was not significant. Taken together, these findings suggest that the SDQ is not optimised for use in community samples and that further psychometric evaluation of the SDQ in this context is clearly warranted.
PMCID: PMC4714886  PMID: 26771673
5.  Health managers’ views on the status of national and decentralized health systems for child and adolescent mental health in Uganda: a qualitative study 
Robust health systems are required for the promotion of child and adolescent mental health (CAMH). In low and middle income countries such as Uganda neuropsychiatric illness in childhood and adolescence represent 15–30 % of all loss in disability-adjusted life years. In spite of this burden, service systems in these countries are weak. The objective of our assessment was to explore strengths and weaknesses of CAMH systems at national and district level in Uganda from a management perspective.
Seven key informant interviews were conducted during July to October 2014 in Kampala and Mbale district, Eastern Uganda representing the national and district level, respectively. The key informants selected were all public officials responsible for supervision of CAMH services at the two levels. The interview guide included the following CAMH domains based on the WHO Assessment Instrument for Mental Health Systems (WHO-AIMS): policy and legislation, financing, service delivery, health workforce, medicines and health information management. Inductive thematic analysis was applied in which the text in data transcripts was reduced to thematic codes. Patterns were then identified in the relations among the codes.
Eleven themes emerged from the six domains of enquiry in the WHO-AIMS. A CAMH policy has been drafted to complement the national mental health policy, however district managers did not know about it. All managers at the district level cited inadequate national mental health policies. The existing laws were considered sufficient for the promotion of CAMH, however CAMH financing and services were noted by all as inadequate. CAMH services were noted to be absent at lower health centers and lacked integration with other health sector services. Insufficient CAMH workforce was widely reported, and was noted to affect medicines availability. Lastly, unlike national level managers, lower level managers considered the health management information system as being insufficient for service planning.
Managers at national and district level agree that most components of the CAMH system in Uganda are weak; but perceptions about CAMH policy and health information systems were divergent.
PMCID: PMC4688939  PMID: 26702296
Child Adolescent Mental Health; Health systems (decentralized); Qualitative research; Sub-Saharan country; Uganda; Africa
6.  Cross-national differences in questionnaires do not necessarily reflect comparable differences in disorder prevalence 
To examine whether the widely used Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire (SDQ) can validly be used to compare the prevalence of child mental health problems cross nationally.
We used data on 29,225 5- to 16-year olds in eight population-based studies from seven countries: Bangladesh, Brazil, Britain, India, Norway, Russia and Yemen. Parents completed the SDQ in all eight studies, teachers in seven studies and youth in five studies. We used these SDQ data to calculate three different sorts of “caseness indicators” based on (1) SDQ symptoms, (2) SDQ symptoms plus impact and (3) an overall respondent judgement of ‘definite’ or ‘severe’ difficulties. Respondents also completed structured diagnostic interviews including extensive open-ended questions (the Development and Well-Being Assessment, DAWBA). Diagnostic ratings were all carried out or supervised by the DAWBA’s creator, working in conjunction with experienced local professionals.
As judged by the DAWBA, the prevalence of any mental disorder ranged from 2.2% in India to 17.1% in Russia. The nine SDQ caseness indicators (three indicators times three informants) explained 8–56% of the cross-national variation in disorder prevalence. This was insufficient to make meaningful prevalence estimates since populations with a similar measured prevalence of disorder on the DAWBA showed large variations across the various SDQ caseness indicators.
The relationship between SDQ caseness indicators and disorder rates varies substantially between populations: cross-national differences in SDQ indicators do not necessarily reflect comparable differences in disorder rates. More generally, considerable caution is required when interpreting cross-cultural comparisons of mental health, particularly when these rely on brief questionnaires.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1007/s00127-011-0440-2) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC3405234  PMID: 22033632
Cross cultural; Questionnaire; Prevalence; Reporting bias
7.  Validity and Reliability of the Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire in 5–6 Year Olds: Differences by Gender or by Parental Education? 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(5):e36805.
The Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire (SDQ) is a relatively short instrument developed to detect psychosocial problems in children aged 3–16 years. It addresses four dimensions: emotional problems, conduct problems, hyperactivity/inattention problems, peer problems that count up to the total difficulties score, and a fifth dimension; prosocial behaviour. The validity and reliability of the SDQ has not been fully investigated in younger age groups. Therefore, this study assesses the validity and reliability of the parent and teacher versions of the SDQ in children aged 5–6 years in the total sample, and in subgroups according to child gender and parental education level.
The SDQ was administered as part of the Dutch regularly provided preventive health check for children aged 5–6 years. Parents provided information on 4750 children and teachers on 4516 children.
Factor analyses of the parent and teacher SDQ confirmed that the original five scales were present (parent RMSEA = 0.05; teacher RMSEA = 0.07). Interrater correlations between parents and teachers were small (ICCs of 0.21–0.44) but comparable to what is generally found for psychosocial problem assessments in children. These correlations were larger for males than for females. Cronbach’s alphas for the total difficulties score were 0.77 for the parent SDQ and 0.81 for the teacher SDQ. Four of the subscales on the parent SDQ and two of the subscales on the teacher SDQ had an alpha <0.70. Alphas were generally higher for male children and for low parental education level.
The validity and reliability of the total difficulties score of the parent and teacher SDQ are satisfactory in all groups by informant, child gender, and parental education level. Our results support the use of the SDQ in younger age groups. However, some subscales are less reliable and we recommend only to use the total difficulties score for screening purposes.
PMCID: PMC3356337  PMID: 22629332
8.  Cerebral malaria is associated with long-term mental health disorders: a cross sectional survey of a long-term cohort 
Malaria Journal  2016;15:184.
Cerebral malaria (CM) and severe malarial anaemia (SMA) are associated with neuro-developmental impairment in African children, but long-term mental health disorders in these children are not well defined.
A cohort of children previously exposed to CM (n = 173) or SMA (n = 99) had neurologic assessments performed and screening for behaviour difficulties using the Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire (SDQ) a median of 21 months after the disease episode. These findings were compared to concurrently recruited community children (CC, n = 108). Participants with SDQ total difficulties score ≥17 had a mental health interview with the child and adolescent version of the Mini-International Neuropsychiatric Interview (MINI-KID) and a sample had brain magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).
Fifty-five children had SDQ score ≥17. On the MINI-KID, these children were classified as having no difficulties (n = 18), behaviour difficulties only (n = 13) or a mental health disorder (n = 24). Behaviour difficulties were seen in similar frequencies in CM (3.5 %), SMA (4.0 %) and CC (2.8 %). In contrast, mental health disorders were most frequent in CM (10.4 %), followed by SMA (4.0 %) and CC (1.8 %). Externalizing disorders (conduct, oppositional defiance and attention deficit hyperactivity) were the most common mental health disorders. The median total coma duration was 72 (IQR 36.0–115.0) h in patients with mental health disorders compared to 48 (IQR 28.5–78.7) h in those without, p = 0.039. Independent risk factors for mental health disorder included neurologic deficit at discharge (OR 4.09 (95 % CI 1.60, 10.5) and seizure recurrences during hospitalization, (OR 2.80, 95 % CI 1.13, 6.97). Brain MRI findings consistent with small vessel ischaemic neural injury was seen in over half of these children.
Cerebral malaria may predispose children to mental health disorders, possibly as a consequence of ischaemic neural injury. There is urgent need for programmes of follow-up, diagnosis and interventions for these children.
PMCID: PMC4815157  PMID: 27030124
Behaviour; Mental health; Psychiatric; Disorder; Children; Cerebral malaria
9.  Normative data and psychometric properties of the parent and teacher versions of the strengths and difficulties questionnaire (SDQ) in an Iranian community sample 
Strengths and difficulties questionnaire (SDQ) is a widely used instrument for screening mental problems in children and adolescents. The main aim of this study was to evaluate the validity and psychometric properties of this questionnaire in comparison with the children behavior checklist (CBCL) and psychiatric interview.
The study was done in two stages. At stage one, 600 children aged between 6 and 12 were evaluated using the parent and teacher versions of SDQ and CBCL. At stage two, 25 children with the scores above the cut point reported by the developer of SDQ and 27 children with the score below this point were selected to be interviewed by a child and adolescent psychiatrist according to Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 4th Edition (DSM-IV) classification and by another clinician using the K-SADS-PL (Schedule for Affective Disorders and Schizophrenia for School-Age Children- Present and Lifetime Version) as a semi structured interview.
The mean scores of SDQ subscales found in this study were comparable to what found in other studies in other countries. The cut-off points of SDQ were almost similar to that of other researches. The internal consistency and concurrent validity of this questionnaire was good.
The current study showed that both parent and teacher versions of SDQ in Persian language can be used as a valid tool in screening the mental problems in children and adolescents.
PMCID: PMC3129092  PMID: 21772865
SDQ; CBCL; mental problems; children; K-SADS
10.  Adolescents’ multiple, recurrent subjective health complaints: investigating associations with emotional/behavioural difficulties in a cross-sectional, school-based study 
Adolescence has been documented as the peak age of onset for mental health perturbations, clinical disorders and unsubstantiated health complaints. The present study attempted to investigate associations between multiple, recurrent subjective health complaints (SHC) with emotional/behavioural difficulties, as measured by the Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire scale (SDQ), among Greek adolescents.
Questionnaires were administered in a large, nation-wide, random, school-based sample of Greek adolescents, aged 12–18 years. Data from 1170 participants were analyzed. Adolescents with multiple, recurrent SHC were compared in terms of their emotional/behavioural difficulties to their peers with lower levels of health complaints. SDQ scales were separately investigated for their associations with multiple, recurrent SHC, after adjustment for gender, age and socioeconomic status (ses). Further analysis included multiple logistic regression models with multiple, recurrent SHC as the dependent variable and gender, age, ses and SDQ Total difficulties score as independent factors. Potential gender and age interactions were also explored.
Almost half of the study participants reported multiple, recurrent SHC. Adolescents with multiple, recurrent SHC had higher scores on all SDQ scales, except from the Prosocial behavior scale, compared to their peers with lower levels of health complaints. Emotional Symptoms, Conduct Problems, Hyperactivity/Inattention and Peer Problems were associated with greater likelihood of having multiple, recurrent SHC, after adjustment for gender, age and ses. The multiple logistic regression models revealed that older adolescents and girls, as well as those with increased Total difficulties score had an increased risk for multiple, recurrent SHC reporting. No significant interaction between SDQ scales and gender or age was found.
Our study highlights the magnitude of psychological burden among adolescents experiencing multiple, recurrent SHC. Professionals in school and clinical settings should be cautious for impaired emotional/behavioural functioning when assessing adolescents with multiple, recurrent SHC, so as early identification of at-risk individuals and timely, appropriate referrals are facilitated.
PMCID: PMC3903038  PMID: 24461305
Subjective Health Complaints (SHC); Emotional/behavioural difficulties; SDQ scale; Adolescents
11.  Normative data and psychometric properties of the strengths and difficulties questionnaire among Japanese school-aged children 
Although child mental health problems are among the most important worldwide issues, development of culturally acceptable mental health services to serve the clinical needs of children and their families is especially lacking in regions outside Europe and North America. The Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire (SDQ), which was developed in the United Kingdom and is now one of the most widely used measurement tools for screening child psychiatric symptoms, has been translated into Japanese, but culturally calibrated norms for Japanese schoolchildren have yet to be established. To this end, we examined the applicability of the Japanese versions of the parent and teacher SDQs by establishing norms and extending validation of its psychometric properties to a large nationwide sample, as well as to a smaller clinical sample.
The Japanese versions of the SDQ were completed by parents and teachers of schoolchildren aged 7 to 15 years attending mainstream classes in primary or secondary schools in Japan. Data were analyzed to describe the population distribution and gender/age effects by informant, cut-off scores according to banding, factor structure, cross-scale correlations, and internal consistency for 24,519 parent ratings and 7,977 teacher ratings from a large nationwide sample. Inter-rater and test-retest reliabilities and convergent and divergent validities were confirmed for a smaller validation sample (total n = 128) consisting of a clinical sample with any mental disorder and community children without any diagnoses.
Means, standard deviations, and banding of normative data for this Japanese child population were obtained. Gender/age effects were significant for both parent and teacher ratings. The original five-factor structure was replicated, and strong cross-scale correlations and internal reliability were shown across all SDQ subscales for this population. Inter-rater agreement was satisfactory, test-retest reliability was excellent, and convergent and divergent validities were satisfactory for the validation sample, with some differences between informants.
This study provides evidence that the Japanese version of the SDQ is a useful instrument for parents and teachers as well as for research purposes. Our findings also emphasize the importance of establishing culturally calibrated norms and boundaries for the instrument’s use.
PMCID: PMC3903008  PMID: 24444351
Child mental health; Questionnaire; Reliability; Validity; Normative banding; Strengths and difficulties questionnaire
12.  Training clinicians in mental health communication skills: Impact on primary care utilization 
Academic pediatrics  2010;10(5):346-352.
Although it is known that children with mental health problems utilize primary care services more than most other children, it is unknown how addressing mental health problems in primary care affects children’s subsequent services utilization. This study measures primary care utilization in the context of a randomized trial of a communication skills training program for primary care clinicians that had a positive impact on child mental health outcomes.
From 2002 to 2005, 48 pediatric primary care clinicians at 13 sites in rural upstate New York, urban Maryland, and Washington, DC were randomized to in-office training or to a control group. Consecutive primary care patients between the ages of 5 and 16 years were screened for mental health problems, as indicated by a possible or probable score on the Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire (SDQ). For 397 screened children, primary care visits during the next 6 months were identified using chart review and administrative databases. Using generalized estimating equation regression to account for clustering at the clinician level, primary care utilization was compared by study group and SDQ status.
The number of primary care visits to the trained clinicians did not differ significantly from those made to control clinicians (2.5 for both groups, p=0.63). Children with possible or probable SDQ scores made, on average, 0.38 or 0.65 more visits on a per-child basis, respectively, during the six-month follow-up period than SDQ unlikely children (p-value=0.0002).
Seeing a trained clinician did not increase subsequent primary care utilization. However, primary care utilization was greater among children with mental health problems as measured by the SDQ. Addressing children’s mental health in primary care does not increase the primary care visit burden. Research on overall health services utilization is needed.
PMCID: PMC2933967  PMID: 20685190
Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire; primary care utilization; child mental health
13.  A stepped-care model of post-disaster child and adolescent mental health service provision 
European Journal of Psychotraumatology  2014;5:10.3402/ejpt.v5.24294.
From a global perspective, natural disasters are common events. Published research highlights that a significant minority of exposed children and adolescents develop disaster-related mental health syndromes and associated functional impairment. Consistent with the considerable unmet need of children and adolescents with regard to psychopathology, there is strong evidence that many children and adolescents with post-disaster mental health presentations are not receiving adequate interventions.
To critique existing child and adolescent mental health services (CAMHS) models of care and the capacity of such models to deal with any post-disaster surge in clinical demand. Further, to detail an innovative service response; a child and adolescent stepped-care service provision model.
A narrative review of traditional CAMHS is presented. Important elements of a disaster response – individual versus community recovery, public health approaches, capacity for promotion and prevention and service reach are discussed and compared with the CAMHS approach.
Difficulties with traditional models of care are highlighted across all levels of intervention; from the ability to provide preventative initiatives to the capacity to provide intense specialised posttraumatic stress disorder interventions. In response, our over-arching stepped-care model is advocated. The general response is discussed and details of the three tiers of the model are provided: Tier 1 communication strategy, Tier 2 parent effectiveness and teacher training, and Tier 3 screening linked to trauma-focused cognitive behavioural therapy.
In this paper, we argue that traditional CAMHS are not an appropriate model of care to meet the clinical needs of this group in the post-disaster setting. We conclude with suggestions how improved post-disaster child and adolescent mental health outcomes can be achieved by applying an innovative service approach.
PMCID: PMC4095762  PMID: 25045422
Disaster planning; mental health services; child; adolescent
14.  A Population-Based Psychometric Validation Study of the Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire – Hebrew Version 
This study presents the psychometric properties of the Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire – Hebrew version (SDQ-H), used in the Israel Survey on Mental Health among Adolescents (ISMEHA). The SDQ-H was administered to a representative sample of 611 adolescents and their mothers. Structural validity was evaluated by exploratory and confirmatory factor analysis and the Development and Well-Being Assessment (DAWBA) inventory was used as “gold standard” to test convergent and discriminant validity. Internal consistency and normative scores were established. Agreement was found with the original factor structure, except for the Peer problem scale. Concurrent and discriminant validity varied from fair to very good for most scales. Total Difficulties scores showed better discriminant validity for the adolescents’ than the mothers’ report for internalizing disorders, and the opposite for externalizing disorders. Internal consistency for the Total Difficulties was 0.77 and for the Hyperactivity scale it was 0.73. It was lower for the other scales, particularly for the Peer problems scale. The findings suggest reasonable psychometric properties of the SDQ-H. Comparisons with other translated SDQ versions are presented.
PMCID: PMC3059623  PMID: 21423458
SDQ-Hebrew version; validity; reliability; normative scores
15.  Results of the parent-rated Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire in 22,108 primary school students from 8 provinces of China 
Shanghai Archives of Psychiatry  2013;25(6):364-374.
A valid screening tool for behavioral and emotional problems in children and adolescents is needed to promote psychological wellbeing and to prevent mental disorders in China's children.
Assess the use of the Chinese version of the internationally recognized Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire (SDQ) – which assesses emotional symptoms, conduct problems, hyperactivity/inattention, peer relationship problems and prosocial behaviors – in a large sample of urban and rural children from different parts of China.
The Chinese version of the parent-reported SDQ was administered to legal guardians (primarily parents) of a stratified random sample of 22,108 primary school children 5 to 13 years of age from eight provinces in China. The association between SDQ scores and socio-demographic characteristics was assessed and the percentile cutoff scores for ‘abnormal’, ‘borderline’ and ‘normal’ results in China were compared with those for Japan and the United Kingdom.
The internal consistency of the 4 of the 5 SDQ subscales were satisfactory but that for the ‘peer relationships problems’ subscale was quite poor (alpha=0.22). Guardians reported that boys were more likely than girls to have hyperactivity/inattention problems and that girls were more likely than boys to have problems with emotional symptoms. For both boys and girls hyperactivity/inattention problems decreased with age while peer relationship problems increased with age. Emotional symptoms, conduct problems and peer relationship problems were more common in children from rural areas and in children whose identified guardian was not a parent (i.e., a grandparent or other relative). The 90th percentile cutoff score for abnormal results was higher in Chinese children than the cutoff scores reported for children in Japan and the United Kingdom.
This study suggests that prevention programs for hyperactivity/inattention problems in boys need to start before the age of 10 and that training in methods of reducing the stress associated with peer relationships should start in early adolescence. Further work is needed to improve the cultural validity of the SDQ in China and to determine its sensitivity and specificity for identifying children who are in need of mental health services.
PMCID: PMC4054577  PMID: 24991179
16.  SDQ: discriminative validity and diagnostic potential 
The Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire (SDQ) was designed to screen for behavioral problems in youths based on cutoff points that favor the instrument's diagnostic sensitivity. The present study aimed to analyze the discriminative validity of the SDQ to identify behavioral difficulties and prosocial resources in school-age children compared with the diagnostic data collected by the corresponding sections of the Development and Well-being Assessment (DAWBA). In addition, new cutoff points that value specificity were defined for the SDQ scales, exploring its diagnostic potential. This study was conducted in Brazil and assessed a community convenience sample that consisted of 120 children aged 6–12 years who were not under psychological/psychiatric treatment. The mothers of the participants also completed a sociodemographic questionnaire. Descriptive statistics were used to clinically characterize the sample. A ROC curve was used to assess the discriminant validity of the SDQ, and new cutoff points were established to maximize the instrument's specificity. The new cutoff points enabled a significant increase in specificity without a significant loss of sensitivity, which favors approaches based on measures of screening and diagnosis yet does not damage the instrument's screening capacity. The following increases were observed: 100% for the depressive disorder scale (cutoff point = 7), 95.1% for the generalized anxiety disorder scale (cutoff point = 7), 46.6% for the conduct disorder scale (cutoff point = 6), 19.2% for the hyperactive disorder scale (cutoff point = 8), and 27.6% for the antisocial personality disorder scale (cutoff point = 6). A cutoff point of 8 was applied to the prosocial behavior scale, which exhibited a 62.1% increase in specificity. The use of more specific cutoff points generated more accurate results and favored SDQ's use, particularly in contexts of care that require more precise and faster procedures for identification of problems.
PMCID: PMC4462033  PMID: 26113840
behavioral problems; validity; children's psychopathology; psychometrics; mental health
17.  Screening for co‐occurring conditions in adults with autism spectrum disorder using the strengths and difficulties questionnaire: A pilot study 
Autism Research  2016;9(12):1353-1363.
Adolescents and adults with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) are at elevated risk of co‐occurring mental health problems. These are often undiagnosed, can cause significant impairment, and place a very high burden on family and carers. Detecting co‐occurring disorders is extremely important. However, there is no validated screening tool for this purpose. The aim of this pilot study is to test the utility of the strengths and difficulties questionnaire (SDQ) to screen for co‐occurring emotional disorders and hyperactivity in adolescents and adults with ASD. The SDQ was completed by 126 parents and 98 individuals with ASD (in 79 cases both parent and self‐report were available from the same families). Inter‐rater reliability, test‐retest stability, internal consistency, and construct validity were examined. SDQ subscales were also compared to clinically utilized measures of emotional disorders and hyperactivity to establish the ability to predict risk of disorder. Inter‐rater reliability (r = 0.42), test‐retest stability (r = 0.64), internal consistency (α = 0.52–0.81) and construct validity (r = 0.42–0.57) for the SDQ subscales were comparable to general population samples. Parent‐ and self‐report SDQ subscales were significantly associated with measures of anxiety, depression and hyperactivity (62–74% correctly classified). Parent‐report performed significantly better than self‐report; adults with ASD under‐reported difficulties. The SDQ shows promise as a simple and efficient way to screen for emotional disorders and hyperactivity in adolescents and adults with ASD that could help reduce the impact of these disorders on individuals and their families. However, further more systematic attempts at validation are warranted. Autism Res 2016, 9: 1353–1363. © 2016 International Society for Autism Research, Wiley Periodicals, Inc.
PMCID: PMC5215637  PMID: 27120552
autism spectrum disorder; co‐occurring disorder; co‐morbid disorder; hyperactivity; attention deficit hyperactivity disorder; anxiety; depression; obsessive–compulsive disorder
18.  Maternal depression and child psychopathology among Attendees at a Child Neuropsychiatric Clinic in Abeokuta, Nigeria: a cross sectional study 
Children with recognized, diagnosable mental and neurological disorders are in addition prone to emotional and behavioral problems which transcend their specific diagnostic labels. In accessing care, these children are almost invariably accompanied by caregivers (usually mothers) who may also have mental health problems, notably depression. The relationship between child and maternal psychopathology has however not been sufficiently researched especially in low and middle income countries.
Mothers (n = 100) of children receiving care at the Child and Adolescent Clinic of a Neuropsychiatric Hospital in Abeokuta, Nigeria took part in the study. To each consenting mother was administered a sociodemographic questionnaire and the Patient Health Questionnaire, while information regarding their children (n = 100) was obtained using the Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire. Data analysis was done with the Statistical Package for Social Sciences (SPSS) version 16.
The mean ages of the mothers and children were 40.4 years (SD 4.7) and 11.6 years (SD 4.1), respectively. Among the children, 63 % had a main diagnosis of seizure disorder. Regardless of main diagnosis, 40 % of all the children had a comorbid diagnosis. Among the mothers, 23 % had major depressive disorder. A quarter (25 %) of the children had abnormal total SDQ scores. A diagnosis of major depressive disorder in mothers was associated with poor total SDQ scores and poor scores in all SDQ domains except the emotional domain for the children. Major depressive disorder among the mothers was associated with not being married (p = 0.004; OR = 0.142, 95 % CI 0.037–0.546) and longer duration of the child’s illness (p = 0.039, OR = 1.165, 95 % CI 1.007–1.346).
The study showed notable rates of depressive illness among mothers of children with neuropsychiatric disorders. Marked rates of emotional and behavioral disorders were also found among the children. Associations were found between maternal and child psychopathology. Mothers of children with neuropsychiatric disorders should be screened for depressive illness.
PMCID: PMC5010715  PMID: 27594902
Depression; Psychopathology; Maternal mental health; Child behavioural problems
19.  Parent experiences questionnaire for outpatient child and adolescent mental health services (PEQ-CAMHS Outpatients): reliability and validity following a national survey 
Development and evaluation of the PEQ-CAMHS Outpatients, a parent completed questionnaire to measure experiences of outpatient child and adolescent mental health services (CAMHS) in Norway.
Literature review, parent interviews, pre-testing and a national survey of 17,080 parents of children who received care at one of the 86 outpatient CAMHS in Norway in 2006. Telephone interviews were conducted with a random sample of non-respondents. Levels of missing data, factor structure, internal consistency and construct validity were assessed.
7,906 (46.0%) parents or primary caregivers responded to the questionnaire. Low levels of missing data suggest that the PEQ-CAMHS is acceptable. The questionnaire includes three scales supported by the results of factor analysis: relationship with health personnel (8 items), information and participation (4 items), and outcome (3 items). Item-total correlations were all above 0.6 and Cronbach's alpha correlations ranged from 0.88-0.94. The results of comparisons of scale scores with several variables relating to global satisfaction, outcome, cooperation, information, involvement and waiting time support the construct validity of the instrument.
The PEQ-CAMHS Outpatients questionnaire includes important aspects of outpatient CAMHS from the perspective of the parent. It has evidence for data quality, internal consistency and validity and is recommended in surveys of parent experiences of these services. Future research should assess test-retest reliability and further tests of construct validity that include clinical data are recommended.
PMCID: PMC3120777  PMID: 21600010
20.  The validity, reliability and normative scores of the parent, teacher and self report versions of the Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire in China 
The Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire (SDQ) has become one of the most widely used measurement tools in child and adolescent mental health work across the globe. The SDQ was originally developed and validated within the UK and whilst its reliability and validity have been replicated in several countries important cross cultural issues have been raised. We describe normative data, reliability and validity of the Chinese translation of the SDQ (parent, teacher and self report versions) in a large group of children from Shanghai.
The SDQ was administered to the parents and teachers of students from 12 of Shanghai's 19 districts, aged between 3 and 17 years old, and to those young people aged between 11 and 17 years. Retest data was collected from parents and teachers for 45 students six weeks later. Data was analysed to describe normative scores, bandings and cut-offs for normal, borderline and abnormal scores. Reliability was assessed from analyses of internal consistency, inter-rater agreement, and temporal stability. Structural validity, convergent and discriminant validity were assessed.
Full parent and teacher data was available for 1965 subjects and self report data for 690 subjects. Normative data for this Chinese urban population with bandings and cut-offs for borderline and abnormal scores are described. Principle components analysis indicates partial agreement with the original five factored subscale structure however this appears to hold more strongly for the Prosocial Behaviour, Hyperactivity – Inattention and Emotional Symptoms subscales than for Conduct Problems and Peer Problems. Internal consistency as measured by Cronbach's α coefficient were generally low ranging between 0.30 and 0.83 with only parent and teacher Hyperactivity – Inattention and teacher Prosocial Behaviour subscales having α > 0.7. Inter-rater correlations were similar to those reported previously (range 0.23 – 0.49) whilst test retest reliability was generally lower than would be expected (range 0.40 – 0.79). Convergent and discriminant validity are supported.
We report mixed findings with respect the psychometric properties of the Chinese translation of the SDQ. Reliability is a particular concern particularly for Peer Problems and self ratings by adolescents. There is good support for convergent validity but only partial support for structural validity. It may be possible to resolve some of these issues by carefully examining the wording and meaning of some of the current questions.
PMCID: PMC2409296  PMID: 18445259
21.  Prevalence of Psychiatric Disorders among Children and Adolescents in Northeast China 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(10):e111223.
To describe the prevalence of DSM-IV disorders and comorbidity in a large school-based sample of 6–17 year old children and adolescents in northeast China.
A two-phase cross-sectional study was conducted on 9,806 children. During the screening phase, 8848 children (90.23%) and their mothers and teachers were interviewed using the Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire (SDQ). During the diagnostic phase, 1129 children with a positive SDQ and 804 randomly selected children with a negative SDQ (11%), and their mothers and teachers, were interviewed using the Development and Well-Being Assessment (DAWBA).
The overall prevalence of DSM-IV disorders was 9.49% (95% CI = 8.10–11.10%). Anxiety disorders were the most common (6.06%, 95% CI = 4.92–7.40), followed by depression (1.32%, 95% CI = 0.91–1.92%), oppositional defiant disorder (1.21%, 95%CI = 0.77–1.87) and attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (0.84%, 95% CI = 0.52–1.36%). Of the 805 children with a psychiatric disorder, 15.2% had two or more comorbid disorders.
Approximately one in ten Chinese school children has psychiatric disorders involving a level of distress or social impairment likely to warrant treatment. Prevention, early identification and treatment of these disorders are urgently needed and pose a serious challenge in China.
PMCID: PMC4215989  PMID: 25360718
22.  The characteristics and activities of child and adolescent mental health services in Italy: a regional survey 
BMC Psychiatry  2012;12:7.
To date, no studies have assessed in detail the characteristics, organisation, and functioning of Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS). This information gap represents a major limitation for researchers and clinicians because most mental disorders have their onset in childhood or adolescence, and effective interventions can therefore represent a major factor in avoiding chronicity. Interventions and mental health care are delivered by and through services, and not by individual, private clinicians, and drawbacks or limitations of services generally translate in inappropriateness and ineffectiveness of treatments and interventions: therefore information about services is essential to improve the quality of care and ultimately the course and outcome of mental disorders in childhood and adolescence.
The present paper reports the results of the first study aimed at providing detailed, updated and comprehensive data on CAMHS of a densely populated Italian region (over 4 million inhabitants) with a target population of 633,725 subjects aged 0-17 years.
Unit Chiefs of all the CAMHS filled in a structured 'Facility Form', with activity data referring to 2008 (data for inpatient facilities referred to 2009), which were then analysed in detail.
Eleven CAMHS were operative, including 110 outpatient units, with a ratio of approximately 20 child psychiatrists and 23 psychologists per 100,000 inhabitants aged 0-17 years. All outpatient units were well equipped and organized and all granted free service access. In 2008, approximately 6% of the target population was in contact with outpatient CAMHS, showing substantial homogeneity across the eleven areas thereby. Most patients in contact in 2008 received a language disorder- or learning disability diagnosis (41%). First-ever contacts accounted for 30% of annual visits across all units. Hospital bed availability was 5 per 100,000 inhabitants aged 0-17 years.
The percentage of young people in contact with CAMHS for mental disorders is in line with those observed in previous epidemiological studies. The overall number of child psychiatrists per 100,000 inhabitants is one of the highest in Europe and it is comparable with the most well equipped areas in the US. This comparison should be interpreted with caution, however, because in Italy, child psychiatrists also treat neurological disorders. Critical areas requiring improvement are: the uneven utilisation of standardised assessment procedures and the limited availability of dedicated emergency services during non-office hours (e.g., nights and holidays).
PMCID: PMC3310734  PMID: 22289204
Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS); Process of care; Adolescence; Child Psychiatry
23.  Why do British Indian children have an apparent mental health advantage? 
Previous studies document a mental health advantage in British Indian children, particularly for externalising problems. The causes of this advantage are unknown.
Subjects were 13 836 White children and 361 Indian children aged 5-16 years from the English subsample of the British Child and Adolescent Mental Health Surveys. The primary mental health outcome was the parent Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire (SDQ). Mental health was also assessed using the teacher and child SDQs; diagnostic interviews with parents, teachers and children; and multi-informant clinician-rated diagnoses. Multiple child, family, school and area factors were examined as possible mediators or confounders in explaining observed ethnic differences.
Indian children had a large advantage for externalising problems and disorders, and little or no difference for internalising problems and disorders. This was observed across all mental health outcomes, including teacher-reported and diagnostic interview measures. Detailed psychometric analyses provided no suggestion of information bias. The Indian advantage for externalising problems was partly mediated by Indian children being more likely to live in two-parent families and less likely to have academic difficulties. Yet after adjusting for these and all other covariates, the unexplained Indian advantage only reduced by about a quarter (from 1.08 to 0.71 parent SDQ points) and remained highly significant (p<0.001). This Indian advantage was largely confined to families of low socio-economic position.
The Indian mental health advantage is real and is specific to externalising problems. Family type and academic abilities mediate part of the advantage, but most is not explained by major risk factors. Likewise unexplained is the absence in Indian children of a socio-economic gradient in mental health. Further investigation of the Indian advantage may yield insights into novel ways to promote child mental health and child mental health equity in all ethnic groups.
PMCID: PMC3428791  PMID: 20840505
Cross-cultural comparison; British Indians; advantaged groups; information bias; minority ethnic mental health; externalising problems
24.  School-based screening for psychiatric disorders in Moroccan-Dutch youth 
While ethnic diversity is increasing in many Western countries, access to youth mental health care is generally lower among ethnic minority youth compared to majority youth. It is unlikely that this is explained by a lower prevalence of psychiatric disorders in minority children. Effective screening methods to detect psychiatric disorders in ethnic minority youth are important to offer timely interventions.
School-based screening was carried out at primary and secondary schools in the Netherlands with the Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire (SDQ) self report and teacher report. Additionally, internalizing and psychotic symptoms were assessed with the depressive, somatic and anxiety symptoms scales of the Social and Health Assessment (SAHA) and items derived from the Kiddie-Schedule for Affective Disorders and Schizophrenia (K-SADS). Of 361 Moroccan-Dutch youths (ages 9 to 16 years) with complete screening data, 152 children were diagnostically assessed for psychiatric disorders using the K-SADS. The ability to screen for any psychiatric disorder, and specific externalizing or internalizing disorders was estimated for the SDQ, as well as for the SAHA and K-SADS scales.
Twenty cases with a psychiatric disorder were identified (13.2 %), thirteen of which with externalizing (8.6 %) and seven with internalizing (4.6 %) diagnoses. The SDQ predicted psychiatric disorders in Moroccan-Dutch youth with a good degree of accuracy, especially when the self report and teacher report were combined (AUC = 0.86, 95 % CI = 0.77-0.94). The SAHA scales improved identification of internalizing disorders. Psychotic experiences significantly predicted psychiatric disorders, but did not have additional discriminatory power as compared to screening instruments measuring non-psychotic psychiatric symptoms.
School-based screening for psychiatric disorders is effective in Moroccan-Dutch youth. We suggest routine screening with the SDQ self report and teacher report at schools, supplemented by the SAHA measuring internalizing symptoms, and offering accessible non-stigmatizing interventions at school to children scoring high on screening questionnaires. Further research should estimate (subgroup-specific) norms and optimal cut-offs points in larger groups for use in school-based screening methods.
PMCID: PMC4457079  PMID: 26052343
Screening; Questionnaires; Children; Adolescents; Cross-cultural; Externalizing disorders; Internalizing disorders
25.  Identifying process and outcome indicators of successful transitions from child to adult mental health services: protocol for a scoping review 
BMJ Open  2016;6(7):e012376.
A significant proportion of youth need to transition from child and adolescent mental health services (CAMHS) to adult mental health services (AMHS); however, the transition process is not well understood and often experienced poorly by youth. In the effort to design and evaluate standards of practice for transitions, there is a need to identify key elements of a successful transition. The objectives of this scoping review are to: (1) identify definitions of successful transitions from CAMHS to AMHS; and (2) identify indicators that have been used to measure CAMHS–AMHS transition care processes and quality, and outcomes.
We will search 8 electronic bibliographic databases from 1980 to 2016 (eg, Medline, EMBASE, PsycINFO), professional associations, policy documents, and other grey literature to identify relevant material. We will include experimental, quasi-experimental, observational studies, and non-research studies (guidelines, narrative reviews, policy documents) examining the transition from CAMHS to AMHS. 2 raters will independently screen each retrieved title and abstract for eligibility using the study inclusion criteria (level 1), and then will independently assess full-text articles to determine if these meet the inclusion criteria (level 2). Data extraction will be completed and results will be synthesised both quantitatively and qualitatively.
Ethics and dissemination
The results of the scoping review will be used to develop a set of indicators that will be prioritised and evaluated in a Delphi consensus study. This will serve as a foundation for the development of the first instrument to assess the quality and success of CAMHS–AMHS transitions. Ethics approval is not required for this scoping study.
PMCID: PMC4947737  PMID: 27381213

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