The Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire (SDQ): A proxy measure of parenting stress

Dominic Mc Sherry, Montserrat Fargas Malet, Kerrylee Weatherall

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)
15 Downloads (Pure)


The Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire (SDQ) (Goodman, 1997) is a brief behavioural screening questionnaire for three- to sixteen-year-olds. It is commonly used in clinical practice and research, particularly in the UK, and is completed by parents, carers and teachers. The measure was utilised in a cross-sectional phase of a longitudinal study of children in care, namely the Care Pathways and Outcomes Study, alongside a measure of parenting stress, the Parenting Stress Index – Short Form (PSI-SF) (Abidin, 1995), with a sub-sample of children (n=72) aged nine to fourteen, and their parents and carers. A Pearson Correlation Coefficient indicated a strong positive correlation between these two measures (r= .71), with normal and abnormal scores on one measure corresponding to normal and abnormal scores on the other. Consequently, it is argued that the SDQ may be considered a proxy measure of parenting stress, with scores in the clinical range being highly predictive of clinical levels of parenting stress. As such, SDQ-informed interventions for adopted children and children in care, and others where behavioural problems have been detected, should be developed to include a consideration of the needs of parents and carers, specifically in relation to reducing levels of parenting stress.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)96-115
Number of pages20
JournalBritish Journal of Social Work
Issue number1
Early online date24 Apr 2018
Publication statusPublished (in print/issue) - 1 Jan 2019


  • Behaviour
  • care
  • foster
  • stress
  • support


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