This indicator measures the number of 4 to 12 year old children who have a “borderline” or “abnormal” score on the Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire (SDQ) section of the Scottish Health Survey (SHeS).

Source of Data:

The data for this indicator is gathered through the Scottish Health Survey (SHeS). SHeS is commissioned by the Scottish Government Health Directorates to provide reliable information on the health, and factors related to health, of people living in Scotland that cannot be obtained from other sources.

Results from Strength and Difficulties Questionnaire section of SHeS are published annually on the Scottish Government website, in the “Supplementary Tables” section which is usually published in the months after the main SHeS findings are reported.

2016-2019: Scottish Health Survey 2019: supplementary tables - (


The Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire (SDQ) measures wellbeing in Children aged 4 to 12 across five dimensions in order to score them for each dimension individually and to give each child a “total difficulties score”. The five dimensions making up the SDQ are Emotional Symptoms; Conduct Disorder; Hyperactivity; Peer Problems; and Prosocial Behaviour.

The “total difficulties score” a child receives can range from 0 to 40, with a higher score indicating more difficulties. Traditionally a three-band categorisation has been used whereby if an individual has a score between 0-13, they are deemed “normal”; 14-16 they are “borderline”; and 17-40, they are “abnormal”. (NB: There is also a newer four-band categorisation in use but SHeS reports using three bands). (See for information on the SDQ and scoring).

Criteria for Change:

Performance is improving if the indicator decreases for three years in a row by at least 1 percentage point each year

Performance is worsening if the indicator increases for three years in a row by at least 1 percentage point each year.

Elsewise, performance maintains

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