Evaluating the psychometric properties of the parent-rated Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire in a nationally representative sample of Canadian children and adolescents aged 6 to 17 years


The Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire (SDQ) is a brief measure of children’s and adolescents’ mental health. There are different versions of the questionnaire: a version for children and adolescents to complete by self-reporting, a version for parents and guardians to complete (“parent-rated”), and a version for teachers to complete. The purpose of this study was to examine the psychometric properties of the parent-rated SDQ with a nationally representative sample of Canadian children and adolescents.

Data and methods

Data are from cycle 1 (2007 to 2009), cycle 2 (2009 to 2011), cycle 3 (2012 to 2013) and cycle 4 (2014 to 2015) of the Canadian Health Measures Survey. Data include 7,451 Canadian children and adolescents aged 6 to 17 years (49.3% female). Parents and guardians completed the SDQ by reflecting on their child’s behaviour over the past six months. Factorial validity was examined via confirmatory factor analysis, which included testing the original five-factor SDQ model and alternative three-factor and higher-order models. Reliability was assessed through composite reliability scores. Measurement invariance across subgroups was also assessed.


The original five-factor (i.e., emotional symptoms, conduct problems, peer problems, hyperactivity and prosocial behaviour) SDQ fit the data satisfactorily, demonstrated evidence of reliability, and was invariant across sex (male vs. female), age (children vs. adolescents) and survey language (English vs. French). The higher-order solution fit the data acceptably, and the three-factor solution did not fit the data well.

Lead Researchers

Link to Publication


  1. Gary Goldfield

    Senior Scientist, CHEO Research Institute

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