Youth Risk Behavior Survey


The Youth Risk Behavior Survey was developed to monitor health behaviors that contribute markedly to the leading causes of death, disability, and social problems among youth and adults in the United States. Health topics assessed include: mental health, intrapersonal conflict, tobacco, alcohol or drug use, and sexual activity. The survey is conducted every other year among middle school and high school students and allows us to measure the prevalence of health behaviors, examine trends over time, and compare subpopulations. 

Key Information

Youth risk behavior including depression and violence, tobacco, alcohol, and other drug use; sexual behaviors, obesity and its risk factors. The results are reported statewide, not by districts, towns, nor individual student.

Collection Period

From 1995 to 2021 (odd year, spring data collection) for high school survey; From 2007 to 2021 for middle school survey.

How data are collected

Anonymous survey of randomly sampled high schools and middle schools. High school 99-item survey, and middle school 50 item surveys are voluntary and survey procedures protect the privacy of students. Local parent permission procedures are followed before administration, including informing parents that their child's participation was voluntary.

How data can be used

The Youth Risk Behavior Survey results help policy makers, school administrators, social service workers, and health personnel monitor risk behaviors of middle and high school students that are linked with major causes of mortality and morbidity among youth and adults in the United States. These results are also used in a variety of venues to develop policy; to plan and improve youth-based health programs; to determine existing health needs in order to develop effective intervention programs; to provide the most recent and updated information for grant submissions; and to improve the development of classroom lessons geared towards reducing health risk behaviors among adolescents.

Rhode Island Numbers, 2021

  • A 99-question survey was completed by 1,735 students in 22 public, charter, special education, alternative, and vocational high schools. The school response rate was 88%, the student response rate was 72%, and the overall response rate was 63%.
  • A 50-question survey was completed by 2,052 students in 23 public, charter, and alternative middle schools. The school response rate was 92%, the student response rate was 73%, and the overall response rate was 67%.

Program Publications