Data Files & Methods
National Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS) data are available in two file formats: Access® and ASCII. The Access and ASCII data can be downloaded and used as is. Additionally, SAS® and SPSS® programs are provided to convert the ASCII data into SAS and SPSS datasets for use in those packages. See How to Use YRBS Data Files for more information.
For additional information on SAS and SPSS (and Stata® and Epi Info™ as well), see Software for Analysis of YRBS Data [pdf 429K].
How to Use YRBSS Data FilesUsing ASCII Files:
- Save the ASCII data file to a folder on your computer.
- Specify column locations for each variable as needed by the software you are using.
Note: How to use the ASCII data varies from one software package to another. Column positions for each variable usually have to be specified. Column positions for each variable can be found in the documentation for each year’s data. Consult your software documentation for more information.Using SAS Files:
- Save the SAS Format Program, SAS Input Program, and the ASCII data files to a folder on your computer.
- Open the SAS Format Program in SAS and edit it according to the instructions included in the comments in the program.
- Run the program. This will create a permanent format library in the folder specified in the SAS program.
- Open the SAS Input Program in SAS and edit it according to the instructions included in the comments in the program.
- Run the program. This will read the ASCII data file and convert it into a permanent SAS dataset for the particular year in the folder specified in the SAS program.
Note: Each year of YRBSS data should go in its own folder because each year has its own format library. Format libraries are not comparable across years. See “How do I use the SAS format library?” in the YRBS FAQs for more information.Using SPSS Files:
- Save the SPSS syntax file and the ASCII data files to a folder on your computer.
- Open the SPSS syntax file in SPSS and edit it according to the instructions included in the comments in the file.
- Run the syntax file. This will read the ASCII data file and convert it into a permanent SPSS data file that includes labels and formats.
- Save the Access file to a folder on your computer.
- Uncompress the Access file.
Note: The file is stored in compressed form to improve download time; it will need to be uncompressed before it can be used. See File Formats Help for more information on uncompressing the file.
Methodology of the Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System [pdf 420K]
MMWR 2013;62(RR-01):1–20; also available as HTML.
Software for Analysis of YRBS Data [pdf 430K]
A review of software packages suitable for analyzing YRBS data and guidance on how to use them
Combining YRBS Data Across Years and Sites [pdf 130K]
Guidance and best practices for combining data from multiple Youth Risk Behavior Surveys (YRBSs)
Conducting Trend Analyses of YRBS Data [pdf 274K]
Guidance and methods for conducting trend analyses of Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS)
Interpretation of YRBS Trend Data [pdf 51K]
Guidance on interpreting YRBS trend data analyses
A Guide to Conducting Your Own Youth Risk Behavior Survey [pdf 132K]
Information useful to communities and groups that plan to conduct their own YRBS survey
Frequently Asked Questions
Answers to common questions asked about the YRBSS, including results, questionnaire content, validity and reliability, methods, and using the data files
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