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Strengths and Difficulties questionnaire: Conduct subscale score

Codes and Frequencies

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For sample children ages 4-17, SDQCOND reports the emotional subscale score of the Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire (SDQ) based on responses to five variables:

  • Often loses temper, past 6 months (BADTEMPER)
  • Often fights or bullies kids, past 6 months (BULLIES)
  • Often lies or cheats, past 6 months (LIECHEAT)
  • Steals from home, school, or elsewhere, past 6 months (STEALS)

For more information about the SDQ, please see WORRIED.

Calculating a Conduct Problems Subscale Score for the Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire 

The SDQ Scoring Guide provides guidance on scoring responses to BADTEMPER, WELLBEHAVED, BULLIES, LIECHEAT, and STEALS to generate a conduct problems subscale score ranging from 0 to 10. Under these guidelines, for the variables BADTEMPER, BULLIES, LIECHEAT, and STEALS, the response "not true" is given a score of 0; a response of "somewhat true" is given a score of 1; and a response of "certainly true" is given a score of 2. The opposite is true for WELLBEHAVED: the response "not true" is given a score of 2; a response of "somewhat true" is given a score of 1; and a response of "certainly true" is given a score of 0. Summing the five individual scores yields a total emotional problems subscale score between 0 and 10.

According to the SDQ Scoring Guide, the conduct problems subscale score can be used as a continuous variable, but it is sometimes convenient to classify it into broader categories for easier interpretation of results. Under the original three-band categorization, total conduct problems subscale scores can be identified as normal, borderline, or abnormal: a total score of 0-2 is normal; a score of 3 is borderline; and a score of 4-10 is abnormal. Under the newer four-band categorization, total scores can be identified as close to average, slightly raised, high, or very high: a total score of 0-2 is close to average; a score of 3 is slightly raised; a score of 4-5 is high; and a score of 6-10 is very high.

In the NHIS, respondents were given a code of 98 ("Not ascertained-more than two responses missing") if more than two of the five component variables of the emotional subscale score had responses of "don't know," "refused," or "not ascertained."

NHIS began offering SDQCOND in 2019. IPUMS NHIS staff constructed SDQCOND for 2001, 2003, and 2004 using the conventions outlined above.

Other SDQ Scores 

The SDQ variables can be used to generate four other subscale scores and a total SDQ score:

  • SDQEMOT: Emotional problems subscale score
  • SDQHYPE: Hyperactivity subscale score
  • SDQPEER: Peer problems subscale score
  • SDQPROS: Prosocial subscale score


With the exception of the questionnaire redesign introduced in 2019, this variable is completely comparable over time. The NHIS questionnaire was substantially redesigned in 2019 to introduce a different data collection structure and new content. For more information on changes in terminology, universes, and data collection methods beginning in 2019, please see the user note.


  • 2001; 2003; 2004: Sample children ages 4-17.
  • 2019 2022: Sample children ages 4-17.


  • 2001, 2003-2004, 2019, 2022