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Strengths and Difficulties questionnaire: Prosocial subscale score

Codes and Frequencies

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

  • Considerate of others' feelings, past 6 months (CONSIDERATE)
  • Readily shares treats/toys, past 6 months (SHARES)
  • Helpful if someone is hurt/upset/ill, past 6 months (HELPSHURT)
  • Kind to younger children, past 6 months (KINDTOKIDS)
  • Often offers to help others, past 6 months (HELPFUL)

For more information about the SDQ, please see WORRIED.

Calculating a Prosocial Subscale Score for the Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire 

The SDQ Scoring Guide provides guidance on scoring responses to CONSIDERATE, SHARES, HELPSHURT, KINDTOKIDS, and HELPFUL to generate a prosocial subscale score ranging from 0 to 10. Under these guidelines, 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. Summing the five individual scores yields a total emotional problems subscale score between 0 and 10.

According to the SDQ Scoring Guide, the emotional 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 emotional subscale scores can be identified as normal, borderline, or abnormal: a total score of 6-10 is normal; a score of 5 is borderline; and a score of 0-4 is abnormal. Under the newer four-band categorization, total scores can be identified as close to average, slightly lowered, low, or very low: a total score of 8-10 is close to average; a score of 7 is slightly lowered; a score of 6 is low; and a score of 0-5 is very low.

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 SDQPROS in 2019. IPUMS NHIS staff constructed SDQPROS 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:

  • SDQCOND: Conduct problems subscale score
  • SDQHYPE: Hyperactivity subscale score
  • SDQPEER: Peer problems subscale score
  • SDQEMOT: Emotional problems 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