Teacher versus parent informant measurement invariance of the Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire

Aja Louise Murray*, Lydia Gabriela Speyer, Hildigunnur Anna Hall, Sara Valdebenito, Claire Hughes

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background and Objectives: Obtaining a multi-informant perspective is important when assessing mental health issues in childhood and adolescence. Obtaining ratings from both parents and teachers also facilitates the evaluation of similarities and contrasts in the nature and severity of symptoms across home and school contexts. However, these informants may differ in their interpretations of observed behaviours, raising questions about the validity of comparing parents’ and teachers’ ratings.
Methods: We evaluated the cross-informant measurement invariance of one of the most widely used measures of child and adolescent mental health: The Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire (SDQ). Using data from the UK-population representative Millennium Cohort Study, we evaluated configural, metric, and scalar measurement invariance across parents and teachers when children were aged 7 (n=10,221) and 11 (n=10,543).
Results: Scalar measurement invariance held at both ages. Parents reported higher levels of symptoms in all domains measured at both ages as well as higher prosociality.
Conclusions: For a UK sample, valid comparisons of parent and teacher SDQ ratings at ages 7 and 11 appear to be possible, facilitating the evaluation of contextual differences in child mental health problems. Further, parents report more problem and prosocial behaviour in their children than teachers attribute to them.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1249-1257
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Pediatric Psychology
Issue number10
Early online date1 Aug 2021
Publication statusPublished - 18 Oct 2021


  • Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire
  • cross-informant invariance
  • multi informant
  • peer problems
  • conduct problems
  • ADHD
  • prosociality
  • emotional problems
  • anxiety
  • attention
  • behavior problems
  • depression
  • hyperactivity
  • research design and methodology


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