YRBSS Data & Documentation
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. Note: YRBS documentation files on this page are within the following file size ranges: pdfs: 45K-1M; dat files: 3M-5M; sas programs: 2K-15K; sps programs: 2K-25K; zip files: 2M-6M.
Combined YRBS Datasets and Documentation
National YRBS Datasets and Documentation
- Alternative High School (1998)
- College (1995)
YRBS Dataset File Formats
Using 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: SAS and SPSS programs need to be used to convert ASCII into SAS and SPSS datasets. 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 Access Files:
- 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.
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 SAS Format Library for more information.
The SAS format library contains the formats used to make SAS output more readable. Formats are linked to the data so that results are displayed as words (“Male” or “Female”, for instance) instead of numbers (1 or 2). The SAS YRBS data file is designed to use its companion format library.
The following example SAS program shows how to use the format library. It assumes that both the data file and the format library are in “c:\data”. Note that the program contains two libname statements. The first libname statement indicates where the data file is located; the second libname statement indicates where the format library is located.
libname mydata 'c:\data'; /* tells SAS where the data are */
Using the format library is recommended but technically is optional. If you do not want to use the format library, include the following statement at the start of your SAS program:
options nofmterr; /* tells SAS to not look for formats */
Please note that each year of YRBS data has its own format library. Format libraries are not the same across years of data.
For further information on using format libraries, please consult your SAS documentation.
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.
- Page last reviewed: December 2, 2015
- Page last updated: December 2, 2015
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