DefinitionThe [http://dhss.alaska.gov/dph/chronic/pages/yrbs/yrbs.aspx Alaska Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS)] is part of the epidemiological [http://www.cdc.gov/healthyyouth/data/yrbs/index.htm Youth Risk Behavioral Surveillance System] that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) established in 1990 to monitor the prevalence of health-risk behaviors among youth. The survey was first implemented in Alaska in 1995. The YRBS is a biennial, anonymous, and voluntary survey of students in grades 9 - 12 in public traditional high schools (excluding boarding, correspondence, home study, alternative, and correctional schools). As of 2009, a statewide survey of Alaska alternative high schools has also been conducted. Alternative
schools are identified by the Department of Education & Early Development as serving at-risk students who benefit from nontraditional school settings and programs. The Alaska YRBS is a joint
project between the Department of Education & Early Development and the Department of Health and Social Services, in cooperation with the CDC. The YRBS asks students to self-report health behaviors across a range of areas that directly lead to morbidity and mortality among youth and adults.
NumeratorEvery other year, the YRBS survey is conducted, asking questions on a wide range of demographic variables and health topics including unintentional injuries; tobacco, alcohol, and drug use; sexual behaviors; nutrition and physical activity; and student connectedness. Data from these questions are used to create a large number of health indicators. For these indicators, numerators typically consist of the weighted number of youth meeting conditions of the question who responded positively (or negatively, in some cases) to the YRBS survey question of interest. See Health Program Information for details on weighting.
DenominatorDenominators for the health indicators typically consist of the weighted number of youth meeting conditions of the question who provided valid responses to the YRBS survey question of interest. See Health Program Information for details on weighting.
Data Interpretation IssuesThe YRBS is subject to at least 5 limitations. First, all YRBS data are self-reported, and the extent of underreporting or overreporting of behaviors cannot be determined. Second, the school-based national, state, territorial, tribal, and large urban school district survey data apply only to youths who attend school and, therefore, are not representative of all persons in this age group. Third, local parental permission procedures are not consistent across school-based survey sites. Fourth, state-level data are not available for all 50 states. Finally, YRBSS addresses only those behaviors that contribute to the leading causes of morbidity and mortality among youths and adults. However, school and community interventions should focus not only on behaviors but also on the determinants of those behaviors.
Why Is This Important?This survey is an important source of health-related data used to guide public health programs and policies at the state and local levels. The YRBS is the only source for representative statewide data for risk behaviors among youth.
How Do We Compare With the U.S.?YRBSS data sources include ongoing surveys as well as one-time national surveys, special-population surveys, and methods studies. The ongoing surveys include school-based national, state, tribal, and large urban school district surveys of representative samples of high school students and, in certain sites, representative state, territorial, and large urban school district surveys of middle school students. The ongoing surveys are conducted biennially. Additionally, schools may conduct a local YRBS to produce district-specific data that can be very helpful to districts and their communities.
What Is Being Done?Data from YRBS are critical for planning and evaluating public health programs and are being used to enable public health professionals, educators, policy makers, and researchers to: 1) describe the prevalence of health-risk behaviors among youths, 2) assess trends in health-risk behaviors over time, and 3) evaluate and improve health related policies and programs. YRBSS also was developed to provide comparable national, state, territorial, and large
urban school district data as well as comparable data among subpopulations of youths (e.g., racial/ethnic subgroups) and to monitor progress towards achieving national health objectives and other program indicators.
Health Program InformationThe YRBS is administered as a paper and pencil survey among three targeted student populations in Alaska's traditional, alternative, and correctional high schools. Sampling methodologies vary depending on the target population and whether the sample is selected for a statewide or local survey.
The statewide survey of traditional high school students uses a multi-stage, stratified sampling design that first selects eligible schools based on probability that is proportional to school size. In the second stage, a random sample of classes is selected with each classroom having an equal probability of selection. The statewide surveys for both the alternative and correctional school populations are based on census samples that allow all eligible high school students to participate in the survey. With four exceptions, the school districts that choose to conduct local surveys also administer the survey to census samples. Due to large enrollments, the four exceptions to this approach administer the survey to students in randomly selected classes from all eligible schools.
The CDC requires overall response rates of 60% or greater for the traditional statewide sample of schools in order to ensure that results can be generalized to their respective overall populations. Similarly, the state of Alaska requires a 50% or greater response threshold for local survey results that have higher sampling fractions, typically 100% or census sampling in which all students are surveyed. Survey responses are weighted to reflect youth attending public schools in Alaska.
Logic checks and data validation procedures are conducted to identify and address data inconsistencies including biologically implausible values, repetitive or illogical responses, missing values, and other issues impacting data accuracy and quality.
Regional results based on less than 100 responses are suppressed in order to both protect student anonymity and ensure a high level of data quality.
For more information about the CDC sampling methodology for statewide traditional samples, refer to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention MMWR at [http://www.cdc.gov/healthyyouth/data/yrbs/pdf/2015/ss6506_updated.pdf].
For more information about CDC data validation procedures, refer to the 2015 YRBS Data User's Guide at [https://www.cdc.gov/healthyyouth/data/yrbs/pdf/2015/2015_yrbs-data-users_guide_smy_combined.pdf].