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Validity and reliability of Tamil version of strengths and difficulties questionnaire self-report


Pathumanabhan Lukumar ,

Department of Community Medicine, Facutly of Medicine, University of Jaffna, Sri Lanka, LK
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Kumudu Wijewardana,

Dean, Faculty of Graduate Studies, University of Sri Jayewardenepura, Gangodawila, Nugegoda, Sri Lanka, LK
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Johanna Hermansson,

Child and Adolescent Psychiatrist, Stockholm, Sweden, SE
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Gunilla Lindmark

International Maternal and Child Health, University of Uppsala, Sweden, SE
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Background Child and adolescent mental health services are scarce in Sri Lanka. Moreover there are no validated instruments to measure the mental health problems of Tamil speaking adolescents in Sri Lanka. Hence, strengths and difficulties questionnaire (SDQ) self-report was translated into Tamil and validated in the District of Jaffna, Sri Lanka.

Methods SDQ self-report was translated from English to Tamil using standard translation and back translation method. The Tamil version of the SDQ self-report was validated against a gold standard (ie. diagnosis made by a consultant psychiatrist). Both clinic and community samples were included in the validation study. Thirty-five adolescents (11-16 years) attending a psychiatric clinic and 91 adolescents from the community were included. The consultant psychiatrist made the diagnosis independent of the SDQ responses. Receiver operating characteristics (ROC) curve was used to measure the validity of SDQ. Reliability was measured using internal consistency.

Results The ROC curve indicated high validity for the identification of adolescents with mental health problems: area under the curve 0.87 (95% - CI = 0.79-0.93). International cut-off point of 15 gave a sensitivity of 69.4% and specificity of 92.2%. Cronbach's alpha values (0.67-0.78) were good in all subscales and total difficulties scale.

Conclusion The SDQ self-report Tamil version can be used effectively for screening of adolescents to identify mental health problems as well as for research purposes.

Key words: SDQ, validity, reliability, mental health problems, adolescent, Tamil


Ceylon Medical Journal Vol. 53, No. 2, June 2008 pp.48-52

How to Cite: Lukumar, P., Wijewardana, K., Hermansson, J. and Lindmark, G., 2008. Validity and reliability of Tamil version of strengths and difficulties questionnaire self-report. Ceylon Medical Journal, 53(2), pp.48–52. DOI:
Published on 12 Dec 2008.
Peer Reviewed


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