Purpose: To examine the effect of data collection setting on the prevalence of priority health risk behaviors among adolescents.
Methods: Analyses were conducted using data from two national probability surveys of adolescents, the 1993 national school-based Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS) and the 1992 household-based National Health Interview Survey (NHIS/YRBS). Forty-two items were worded identically on both surveys.
Results: Thirty-nine of the 42 identically worded items (93%) showed that the YRBS produced estimates indicating higher risk than the NHIS. Twenty-four of these comparisons yielded statistically significant differences. The prevalence estimates affected most were those for behaviors that are either illegal or socially stigmatized.
Conclusions: School-based surveys produce higher prevalence estimates for adolescent health risk behaviors than do household-based surveys. Each has advantages and disadvantages, and both can play a role in assessing these behaviors.