Reliability of the 1999 youth risk behavior survey questionnaire

J Adolesc Health. 2002 Oct;31(4):336-42. doi: 10.1016/s1054-139x(02)00339-7.


Purpose: To assess the test-retest reliability of the 1999 Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS) questionnaire.

Methods: A sample of 4,619 male and female high school students from white, black, Hispanic, and other racial/ethnic groups completed the YRBS questionnaire on two occasions approximately two weeks apart. The questionnaire assesses a broad range of health risk behaviors. This study used a protocol that maintained anonymity yet allowed matching of Time-1 and Time-2 responses. The authors computed a kappa statistic for the 72 items measuring health risk behaviors, and compared group prevalence estimates at the two testing occasions.

Results: Kappas ranged from 23.6% to 90.5%, with a mean of 60.7% and a median of 60.0%. Kappas did not differ by gender, grade, or race/ethnicity of the respondent. About one in five items (22.2%) had significantly different prevalence estimates at Time 1 vs. Time 2. Ten items, or 13.9%, had both kappas below 61% and significantly different Time-1 and Time-2 prevalence estimates.

Conclusions: Overall, students appeared to report health risk behaviors reliably over time, but several items need to be examined further to determine whether they should be revised or deleted in future versions of the YRBS.

Publication types

  • Evaluation Study

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adolescent Behavior*
  • Female
  • Health Behavior*
  • Health Surveys*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Risk-Taking*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires*
  • United States