A new English instrument for screening mental health in children and adolescents, the Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire (SDQ), was translated into Swedish and used for parental ratings of 900 children aged 6-10 years from the general population. The SDQ which comprises 25 items, divided into 5 subscales (prosocial, hyperactivity, emotional symptoms, conduct problems, and peer problems) was developed from the Rutter scales. An earlier English validation study has shown the two instruments to have equal ability to identify child psychiatric cases, but the SDQ also provides screening on empathy and prosocial behaviour which are aspects of child development emphasized in current child psychiatry. The design of the SDQ with both strengths' and difficulties' items supposedly increases acceptability of the instrument on behalf of informants and makes the questionnaire especially suitable for studies of general population where the majority of children are healthy. Our results, which are novel findings on the instrument, confirmed the postulated factor structure and showed significant gender-differences in results on the total scale, prosocial and hyperactivity subscales and on some of the single items. Moreover, our investigation showed that a Swedish translation of the parental version of the SDQ worked well.
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