Skip to main content

Youth Risk Behavior Survey

The Oklahoma Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS) is part of the larger Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System (YRBSS), which includes a national school-based survey conducted by the CDC, as well as state, territorial, tribal, and local surveys conducted by state, territorial, and local education and health agencies and tribal governments.

The YRBSS monitors six types of health-risk behaviors that contribute to the leading causes of death and disability among youth and adults, including—

  • Behaviors that contribute to unintentional injuries and violence
  • Sexual behaviors that contribute to unintended pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases, including HIV infection
  • Alcohol and other drug use
  • Tobacco use
  • Unhealthy dietary behaviors
  • Inadequate physical activity


The YRBSS also measures the prevalence of obesity and asthma among youth and young adults.

The Oklahoma YRBS is a randomized, statewide survey. Fifty schools from around the state are randomly selected to participate in the survey. Statewide surveys are administered using the established CDC protocol and in partnership with the CDC in the spring of odd-numbered years. 

Methodology

The statewide, randomized YRBS is conducted biennially on odd-numbered years. Fifty schools from around the state are randomly selected to participate in the survey. The sample is selected using a two-stage sampling design. Schools are first selected for participation based on probability proportional to enrollment. Classes are then selected from each school using systematic equal probability sampling with a random start. When response rates are sufficient, the sample is weighted to be representative of Oklahoma public high school students in grades 9 through 12 based on the demographic distribution of the enrolled student population provided by the Oklahoma State Department of Education. Additional information about methods and data standards is available at https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/pdf/rr/rr6201.pdf

Limitations

The YRBS is a cross-sectional study; therefore, any measured associations reflect one point in time and do not imply a causal relationship. These data are representative of public school students in grades 9 through 12 in Oklahoma. Adolescents who attend private institutions, home-schooled, or do not attend any school are not represented. There is potential under-reporting of risk behaviors by students participating in the YRBS. Despite efforts to conduct the YRBS in such a manner as to preserve confidentiality, some students may not report events if they feel their answers will in some way identify them. Furthermore, students read and interpret the questions and form their answers without any external assistance; therefore, students may have different interpretations of the YRBS questions and response options.

What is the Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System (YRBSS)?
The YRBSS was developed in 1990 to monitor priority health risk behaviors that contribute markedly to the leading causes of death, disability, and social problems among youth and adults in the United States. These behaviors, often established during childhood and early adolescence, include tobacco use, unhealthy dietary behaviors, inadequate physical activity, alcohol and other drug use, sexual behaviors that contribute to unintended pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases, including HIV infection, and behaviors that contribute to unintentional injuries and violence.

What are the purposes of the YRBSS?
The YRBSS was designed to determine the prevalence of health risk behaviors, assess whether health risk behaviors increase, decrease, or stay the same over time, and examine the co-occurrence of health risk behaviors. The YRBSS provides comparable national, state, and local data and it provides comparable data among subpopulations of youth. It also monitors progress toward achieving the Healthy People 2020 objectives and other program indicators.

What are the components of the YRBSS?
YRBSS includes a national school-based survey conducted by CDC and state, territorial, tribal, and local surveys conducted by state, territorial, and local education and health agencies and tribal governments. The Oklahoma statewide YRBS is one component of the larger YRBSS. 

How much does the Oklahoma YRBS cost and what is involved?
There is no cost to the school district or school to conduct the YRBS through the Oklahoma State Department of Health (OSDH). OSDH provides all survey materials, including parental consent forms, survey booklets, answer sheets, and pencils. Fifty schools from around the state are randomly selected to participate in the survey. Only schools with students in grades 9-12 are eligible to be selected.

How is the Oklahoma YRBS administered?
The CDC random sample YRBS is administered by the staff of the Maternal and Child Health Service from OSDH. Mandatory training is provided to all OSDH staff before survey administration.  All survey administrators are given specific guidelines about the survey atmosphere, confidentiality procedures and safeguards, and recommendations about how to handle student questions during the YRBS.

Who do I contact for more information?
If you would like more information about the YRBS please contact the Thad Burk, Child and Adolescent Health Epidemiologist, at (405) 271-6761 or by e-mail at thadb@health.ok.gov

Q. Why is the survey being done?

A. The Oklahoma State Department of Health will use the results to help measure how many youth practice health-risk behaviors. The survey results also will be used to create school health programs to help reduce these behaviors.

Q. Are sensitive questions asked?

A. Yes. Some questions are sensitive. To help solve health problems among our youth, we must first understand them. HIV is a major health problem. Sexual intercourse and injecting illegal drugs are behaviors that increase the risk of getting HIV. The only way to learn if youth are at risk of getting HIV is to ask questions about these behaviors. Attempted suicide, tobacco use, alcohol and other drug use, and weapon carrying are also sensitive issues. Therefore, survey questions are written in a direct but sensitive way.

Q. Will students’ names be used or linked to the surveys?

A. No. The survey has been designed to protect your child’s privacy. Teachers are not involved directly. Students do not put their name on the survey. When students finish the survey, they place the survey in an envelope and seal it shut.

Q. Do students take the survey more than once to see how their behaviors change?

A. No. Each year a new sample of schools and students is picked. Students who take part one year cannot be tracked because their names are not on the survey.

Q. How was my child picked to be in the survey?

A. Fifty schools from around the state were randomly selected to participate in the survey. Then, among participating schools, classes were randomly selected to participate. 

Q. How long does it take to fill out the survey? Does the survey include a physical test?

A. One class period is needed to fill out the written survey. The survey does not include a physical test or exam.

Q. Who supports this survey?

A. This survey is supported by many state organizations interested in the health of youth. Oklahoma State Department of Education, Oklahoma PTA, Cooperative Council Oklahoma School Administration, Oklahoma State School Boards Association, and other school districts that have previously participated in the Youth Risk Behavior Survey have given letters of support. It is also supported by many national organizations. People from over 100 state and local health and education agencies and 19 federal agencies helped develop the survey.


Contact Information

Thad Burk, MPH
Child and Adolescent Health Epidemiologist
Phone: (405) 426-8092

Mailing Address:
Oklahoma State Department of Health
Maternal & Child Health Service
123 Robert S. Kerr. Ave., Suite 1702
Oklahoma City, OK 73102-6406

Physical Address:
Oklahoma State Department of Health
123 Robert S. Kerr Ave.
Oklahoma City, OK