Psycat is a DIAMONDS project that provides a valid instrument designed to detect psychosocial problems in children. It is an intelligent web-based questionnaire that smartly decides which questions to ask based on the given answers so far. Psycat is available for parents of children in the ranges of 2 to 4 and 7 to 11 years.

Psycat is an efficient and reliable alternative for existing instruments for detecting psychosocial disorders in children. When compared to existing questionnaires, e.g. the Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire (SDQ), Psycat offers the following advantages: It gives reliable and valid information about the nature of the mental problem, Psycat is a fast and adaptive instrument, It provides easy readable graphic results.

What is Psycat?
Psycat is an alternative for existing instruments, like SDQ, to detect psychosocial problems in children. Psycat is a web-based questionnaire filled out by parents and measures the relative weight of psychosocial problems on four scales: a Totalscore, Internalizing problems, Externalizing problems and Hyperactivity. Psycat utilizes CAT: Computerized Adaptive Testing. Psycat is available for parents of children in the ranges of 2 to 4 and 7 to 11 years.

Computerized adaptive testing
This is how the CAT technique works: after every answer given by the parents, the weight of a possible mental problem of the child is estimated. Then, the question providing the most information in order to improve the estimation is assessed, until a predefined minimal accuracy level is reached. Because of this technique, several questions can be skipped, i.e., they do not contribute to a better estimation. This results in a minimum amount of questions necessary to be asked to the parents in order to estimate the nature of the possible psychosocial problem of their child.

Advantages of Psycat
In comparising to existing (paper-based) questionnaires, like SDQ, Psycat offers the following advantages:

  • Psycat is a fast instrument, irrelevant questions are not asked to the parents. Parent will be asked to answer approximately 12-16 questions.
  • The resulting report generated by Psycat provides more specific information than those of other questionnaires like the SQD. More information about the nature of the possible psychosocial problem is provided by means of which psychosocial support by JGZ is more aligned with the need of the child.
  • Results are made available through the internet meaning that professionals do not need to invest their time in analyzing the answers.
  • Results are presented in easy readable graphic results.