Psychometric Properties and Norms for the Strengths
and Difﬁculties Questionnaire Administered Online in
an Australian Sample
Rebecca J. Seward ,
Donna M. Bayliss,
Helen M. Stallman,
and Jeneva L. Ohan
School of Psychology, The University of Western Australia, and
School of Psychology, Social Work and Social Policy, The University of South Australia
Objective: The Strengths and Difﬁculties Questionnaire (SDQ) was developed for clinicians and researchers as a brief screening instrument
for behavioural and emotional problems in children. Administered in its traditional pen-and-paper format, the SDQ has demonstrated sound
psychometric properties. The SDQ is increasingly being administered online, despite there being little evaluation of the psychometric proper-
ties and norms of the instrument in this new administrative context, and none in an Australian (or English-speaking) sample. Therefore, the
aim of the current study was to explore the psychometric properties and present normative data for the online administration of the parent-
report version of the SDQ in an Australian sample.
Methods: Participants were parents (n = 1,070) of Australian primary school-aged children (5 to 12 years) who completed the SDQ online
via a web-based software program.
Results: Results demonstrate sound psychometric properties for the SDQ in its online administrative format that are comparable to previous
Australian studies utilising the traditional pen-and-paper format of the SDQ. Moreover, we provide normative data on the SDQ subscales, as
well as the impact supplement when administered online.
Conclusions: Together, the results support the use of the SDQ online, and provide emerging evidence that the psychometric properties and
the norms for the parent-report SDQ in an English-speaking sample are similar regardless of online versus pen-and-paper administration.
Key words: children; measurement; normative data; parent report; Strengths and Difﬁculties Questionnaire.
What is already known on this topic
1 The Strengths and Difﬁculties Questionnaire (SDQ) is
widely used as a screening instrument for behavioural and
emotional problems in children.
2 The SDQ demonstrates robust psychometric properties in
its traditional pen-and-paper administrative format.
3 The SDQ is increasingly being administered online, despite
there being little evaluation of the psychometric properties
and norms of the instrument in this administrative context
in an English-speaking Australia sample.
What this paper adds
1 This is the ﬁrst paper to explore the psychometric properties
of the online administration of the SDQ in an English-speaking
2 Results provide support for the use of the SDQ in its online
administrative format, demonstrating sound psychometric
properties that are comparable to previous Australian studies
utilising the traditional pen-andpaper format of the SDQ.
3 Normative data on the SDQ subscales, as well as the impact
supplement, is also presented.
Mental health problems are relatively common among children
(Merikangas et al., 2010; Sawyer et al., 2001). To enable the
provision of early intervention clinical services to children with
mental health problems, a low-cost, easy to use, psychometri-
cally sound screening tool is needed (Harrington, Rutter, &
Fombonne, 1996). Such a tool is also needed for research on
child mental health, especially for studies that involve larger
and population-based samples and/or repeat administrations.
Although a few screening tools have been developed to ﬁll
these needs, the Strengths and Difﬁculties Questionnaire (SDQ;
Goodman, 1997) has been the most widely used. The SDQ is a
brief screening instrument for behavioural and emotional pro-
blems in children and adolescents aged 3 to 16 years of age. It
consists of 25 items assessing emotional symptoms, conduct
problems, hyperactivity/inattention, peer relationship problems
and prosocial behaviour, and also includes an impact supple-
ment allowing informants to report on the distress and burden
Correspondence: Rebecca J. Seward, School of Psychology, University
of Western Australia, 35 Stirling Hwy, Crawley, Western Australia 6009,
Accepted for publication 17 August 2017
Australian Psychologist 53 (2018) 116–124
© 2017 The Australian Psychological Society