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Keywords:

  • Youth Risk Behavior Survey;
  • School Health Profiles;
  • adolescent health;
  • school health;
  • data uses

BACKGROUND: To monitor priority health risk behaviors and school health policies and practices, respectively, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) developed the Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System (YRBSS) and the School Health Profiles (Profiles). CDC is often asked about the use and application of these survey data to improve adolescent and school health. The purpose of this article is to describe the importance and potential impact of Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS) and Profiles data based on examples from participating sites.

METHODS: The authors spoke with representatives from 25 state and 8 local agencies funded by CDC to learn how data from the YRBS, Profiles, and other data sources are used. The authors identified common themes in the responses and categorized the responses accordingly.

RESULTS: Representatives indicated survey data are used to describe risk behaviors and school health policies and practices, inform professional development, plan and monitor programs, support health-related policies and legislation, seek funding, and garner support for future surveys. Examples presented highlight the range of possible uses of survey data.

CONCLUSIONS: State and local agencies use YRBS and Profiles data in many ways to monitor and address issues related to adolescent and school health. Innovative uses of survey data are encouraged, although it is also crucial to continue the more fundamental uses of survey data. If the data are not disseminated, the current health needs of students may not be adequately addressed.