An assessment of the effect of data collection setting on the prevalence of health risk behaviors among adolescents

J Adolesc Health. 2002 Oct;31(4):327-35. doi: 10.1016/s1054-139x(02)00343-9.


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.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Evaluation Study

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adolescent Behavior*
  • Confidentiality
  • Data Collection / methods*
  • Exercise
  • Feeding Behavior
  • Female
  • Health Behavior*
  • Health Surveys*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Risk-Taking*
  • Schools
  • Sexual Behavior
  • Substance-Related Disorders / epidemiology
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • United States / epidemiology
  • Violence / statistics & numerical data