YRBSS Overview

Key Takeaway

  • The Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System (YRBSS) measures health-related behaviors and experiences that can lead to death and disability among youth and adults.
  • Results help monitor health trends, identify emerging issues, and plan and evaluate programs that can help improve adolescent health.

What is the Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System?

The Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System (YRBSS) is a set of surveys that track behaviors that can lead to poor health in students grades 9 through 12. The surveys are administered every other year. Some of the health-related behaviors and experiences monitored are:

  • Student demographics: sex, sexual identity, race and ethnicity, and grade
  • Youth health behaviors and conditions: sexual, injury and violence, bullying, diet and physical activity, obesity, and mental health, including suicide
  • Substance use behaviors: electronic vapor product and tobacco product use, alcohol use, and other drug use
  • Student experiences: parental monitoring, school connectedness, unstable housing, and exposure to community violence
a group of teens

Data are also collected on sex and sexual orientation. The survey is anonymous, and no identifying data are collected.

What is the purpose of YRBSS?

The YRBSS was designed to:

  • Determine how often unhealthy behaviors occur
  • Assess whether unhealthy behaviors increase, decrease, or stay the same over time
  • Provide data at the national, state, territorial and freely associated state, tribal, and local levels
  • Provide data comparing different groups of adolescents
  • Monitor progress toward achieving the Healthy People Objectives and other program goals

Why is YRBSS important?

YRBS results help monitor adolescent health behavior changes over time, identify emerging issues, and plan and evaluate programs to support the health of youth.

YRBS data are used by health departments, educators, lawmakers, doctors, and community organizations to inform school and community programs, communications campaigns, and other efforts.

For more information on why these data  are so important, check out Why YRBS?

What are the components of the YRBSS?

The YRBSS is a system of surveys. It includes:

  • A national survey, called the Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS), conducted by CDC that includes high school students from both private and public schools within the U.S.
  • Surveys conducted by departments of health and education at the state, tribal, territorial, or local levels of their respective public high school students

From 1991 through 2021, the YRBSS has collected data from more than 5 million high school students in more than 2,200 separate surveys.