Exploratory Graph Analysis of the Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire for Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander Children

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Frontiers in Psychology


In Australia, one of the most frequently used measures for assessing social and emotional well-being (SEWB) of Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander children is the Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire (SDQ). Previous studies on state-level validations have indicated the problems associated with the original five-factor SDQ structure, especially in the dimension of Peer Problems. The aim of this study was to use a novel psychometric methodology, namely Exploratory Graph Analysis (EGA), to evaluate the dimensionality of caregiver-informant SDQ version 4–10 years at a national level in Australia. Data for this study were retrospectively collected from two independent longitudinal studies: the Longitudinal Study of Indigenous Children (LSIC) and South Australian Aboriginal Birth Cohort (SAABC). The caregiver-informed SDQ version 4–10 years was applied across several study waves, including more than 4,000 responses. To conduct EGA, Gaussian graphical models (GGMs) were estimated using the Least Absolute Shrinkage and Selection Operator. About 2,500 bootstrap samples were also employed to investigate dimensions and item stability. The findings indicated robust evidence against the construct validity of the original five-factor SDQ structure. Future studies should conduct a direct external validation of the findings with Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander parents/carers and community groups to develop the guidelines for future use of the instrument among Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander children in Australia.

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