First results of the Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire, applied as a screening tool for psychosocial difficulties in pediatric audiology

Tjeerd J. de Jong*, Marc P. van der Schroeff, Marieke D. Achterkamp, Jantien L. Vroegop

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

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Purpose: Despite major improvements in rehabilitation possibilities, children with sensorineural hearing loss are at risk for psychosocial difficulties. These difficulties can impact their educational and career achievements and may be two to three times more common in children with hearing loss compared to those with normal hearing. Early identification of psychosocial difficulties can be facilitated using the Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire (SDQ) and may improve outcomes and quality of life. We implemented the SDQ into the clinical follow-up of children with hearing loss in a tertiary referral hospital. With this, prevalence and severity of difficulties in specific psychosocial domains and several predictors were investigated. Methods: A retrospective, cross-sectional investigation was performed of the following factors in association with the SDQ results: type of hearing device, type and degree of hearing loss, speech perception in quiet and in noise, and type of schooling. Results: Between June 2020 and January 2022, parents of 312 children (age 4–18) completed the SDQ. An additional 113 child-reports were completed. The response rate of the parents was 69%. Problems with peer relationships and prosocial behavior were the most affected areas with clinically elevated scores in 22% of the children. Psychosocial difficulties were distributed similarly across types of hearing device, nature and degrees of hearing loss, and educational settings. Better speech perception in quiet was significantly associated with fewer parent-reported conduct problems. Conclusion: The results of the present study suggest that children with hearing loss may be at risk of experiencing challenges with social interactions and attachment in social contexts. Using the SDQ in clinical follow-up may improve the chances for early psychological assessment and intervention. In addition, the study found that children’s mental health may be impacted by their communication abilities.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4467-4476
Number of pages10
JournalEuropean Archives of Oto-Rhino-Laryngology
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2023

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The study was funded by Dorhout Mees Stichting.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023, The Author(s).


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