Article Title: Self-Reported Strengths And Difficulties In Schoolchildren Of Indian Origin In Uae

Author(S): Ann Isaac, Syed Ahmer, Saman Iqbal

Institute(s): Mafraq Hospital, P.O Box – 2951, Abu Dhabi, UAE; Department of Psychiatry, The Aga Khan University, Stadium Road, Karachi 74800

Journal: Journal of Pakistan Psychiatric Society, 2008, Vol. 5, No. 1, p. 8-12


Objective: There have been several studies assessing mental health problems in children living in UAE but none focusing exclusively on children of expatriates living there. In this study we have tried to find out if the mental health problems of expatriate children in UAE are similar to local children and children from other countries.

Design: Cross-sectional questionnaire survey

Place & duration of study: A private school in UAE for children of Indian origin. Data collected in one day.

Subjects & Methods: 1291 children attending grades 7-11 completed the 25-items Strength and Difficulties Questionnaire along with the Impact Supplement. Data was analysed using SSPS 14.0 for Windows. Group differences were tested using Pearson’s Chi-square test for categorical variables and independent samples t test for continuous variables.

Results: We received 1049 correctly filled out forms. The mean of SDQ self-report total difficulties score was 10.5 (SD 5.16) for all subjects, slightly higher for girls (10.6, SD 5.18) than boys (10.4, SD 5.14). More girls were classified as having an ‘abnormal’ score (4.7% vs 4.1%, p = 0.04) on emotional problems subscale while more boys were classified as having an ‘abnormal’ score on conduct problems (5.5% vs 3.6%), hyperactivity problems (4.5% vs 2.9%) and peer problems subscales. Overall 6.3% of children scored above the 90th percentile, suggesting they were at significant risk of developing psychiatric morbidity, while a further 9.2% fell in the Borderline category.

Conclusions: A total of 15.5% of expatriate school going children in UAE were at least moderately at risk of developing a psychiatric illness. While this is not hugely different from children in other populations it does underline a need for child and adolescent mental health services for this particular sub-population.

Key words: Mental Disorders Diagnosed in Childhood, SDQ, UAE