BACKGROUND : The use of the SDQs as a screening tool to monitor new or ongoing problems in
adolescent psychiatric outpatients is needed to improve clinical outcomes. Discrepancies
between parent and adolescent reports on the Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire (SDQ),
reflects the degree of emotional and behavioural symptoms. This may affect their ability to
work together to reach therapeutic goals.
AIM : The level of SDQ (dis)agreements between adolescent-parental self-reports in adolescent
psychiatric outpatients was examined.
SETTING : Weskoppies Child and Adolescent outpatients.
METHODS : This two-group cross-sectional comparative study obtained SDQ responses from 74
psychiatrically diagnosed adolescents and their parents (148 completed SDQ questionnaires).
Adolescent outpatients aged between 11 and 18 years following up at the outpatients between
July 2017 and November 2017 were included. Adolescent and parent rating scores were
compared using a paired sample t-test, and patterns of agreement were measured by using
Pearson’s correlation coefficient and Cohen’s kappa.
RESULTS : Parents reported more difficulties than adolescents, although differences were
non-significant (p > 0.58). Caregivers and adolescents agreed on the conduct domain and on
emotional symptoms (0.21 ≤ kappa ≤ 0.40, p < 0.05). Caregivers and adolescents agreed on the
presentation of internalising and externalising disorders (R = 0.48, p < 0.001).
CONCLUSIONS : The SDQ confirmed fair agreement between parents and adolescents. Parental
perceptions of adolescent behavioural difficulties could influence parent– adolescent relations
and communication. Using the SDQ as a screening tool in South Africa, requires further validation for it to be integrated as part of a multi-informant best-practice approach.