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Strengths and difficulties questionnaire-teacher: Investigating its factor structure and utility with culturally and linguistically diverse students

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  26 February 2020

Nigar G. Khawaja
School of Psychology and Counselling, Queensland University of Technology, Brisbane, Queensland, Australia
Lakshmi Dhushyanthakumar
School of Psychology and Counselling, Queensland University of Technology, Brisbane, Queensland, Australia
E-mail address:


The Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire (SDQ), with its three forms (youth, parent and teacher version), is widely used to assess emotional and behavioural disorders in children and adolescents. The present study examined the factor structure and psychometric properties of the teacher version of the scale (SDQ-T) with adolescents from culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) background. It also explored the impact of demographic factors on the mental health outcomes of CALD adolescents in the school setting as indicated by SDQ-T. Teachers from a Special English language transitional school in Brisbane, Australia completed the SDQ-T for 175 culturally and linguistically diverse adolescents. The exploratory factor analysis indicated a 23-item scale with a four-factor structure: Prosocial Behaviour, Hyperactivity, Emotional Symptoms, and Behavioural Problems. The revised scale had sound internal consistency. Findings indicated that CALD adolescents from refugee backgrounds scored higher on Emotional Symptoms, Conduct and Peer Problems, and SDQ total difficulties. There were no differences on subscale scores based on gender or English language proficiency. SDQ-T emerged as a promising scale that can be used to understand CALD adolescents’ postmigration emotional experiences, risks and protective factors. The implications of the SDQ-T in schools with adolescents from migrant and refugee backgrounds are discussed.

© The Author(s) 2020. Published by Cambridge University Press

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