Longitudinal invariance of the strengths and difficulties questionnaire across ages 4 to 16 in the ALSPAC sample

Lydia Gabriela Speyer*, Bonnie Auyeung, Aja Louise Murray

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

The Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire (SDQ) has been widely used to study children’s psychosocial development longitudinally; however, such analyses assume longitudinal measurement invariance, that is, they presuppose that symptom manifestations are measured comparably across different ages. Violations of this assumption could bias longitudinal analyses and should therefore be empirically tested. This study tested longitudinal measurement invariance within a confirmatory factor analysis framework in the U.K.-based Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children (N = 13,988). Results indicated that SDQ scores showed configural, metric, scalar, and residual invariance across ages 7, 8, 9, 11, 13, and 16, supporting its use for comparing variances, covariances, and means over time within a latent variable model as well as using observed scores. At age 4, configural invariance was not supported, indicating that mental health symptoms as measured by the SDQ manifest differently at this age, thus necessitating caution when comparing symptoms as measured by SDQ scores at this age to later ages.
Original languageEnglish
Early online date18 Oct 2022
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 18 Oct 2022

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • confirmatory factor analysis
  • longitudinal measurement invariance
  • Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire


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