Factor structure and reliability of the parent-informant strengths and difficulties questionnaire in a Scottish preschool sample

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Despite being a widely accepted measure of social, emotional and behavioural problems among children and young people, the factor structure underlying the Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire (SDQ) is unclear. Recent research has suggested a need to consider a method bias in the SDQ as a separate latent construct. Using data from the 2006/2007 Growing Up in Scotland study, confirmatory factor analyses was performed with 2,500 parental SDQ reports of their four year old children, estimating and comparing three competing factor models – five factor, three factor, and six factor (method factor). Results indicated that the 6 factor solution which included an uncorrelated method factor was the best fitting model. Several items from the pro-social factor and peer problems factor loaded more highly on the method factor than the original factors, suggesting bias influences across the SDQ domains. As the SDQ is widely used internationally further research is required to investigate the consistency of the method factor within the SDQ structure and implications for use and interpretation of the measure.
Original languageEnglish
JournalEarly Education and Development
Issue number3
Early online date6 Oct 2016
Publication statusPublished - 2017



  • Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire
  • factor structure
  • psychology

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