About the Healthy Youth Survey (HYS)
The Washington State Healthy Youth Survey (HYS) is an effort to measure health risk behaviors that contribute to morbidity, mortality, and social problems among youth in Washington State. These behaviors include alcohol, marijuana, tobacco and other drug use; behaviors that result in intentional and unintentional injuries (e.g., violence); dietary behaviors and physical activity; mental health; school climate; and related risk and protective factors. The 2021 administration was the seventeenth such statewide survey of Washington students and participation has been steadily increasing over time. In 2021, over 200,000 students from all 39 counties participated in HYS.
The HYS is designed to accomplish multiple goals:
- To deliver crucial information about the prevalence of major adolescent health risk behaviors to parents, the public, school officials, public health professionals, human service agencies and policymakers.
- To identify trends and patterns in adolescent health status and risky behaviors, supporting the examination and evaluation of many different prevention, safety and health promotion initiatives.
- To guide policy formation and improve program needs assessments of state agencies, local health jurisdictions, county prevention coordinators, community mobilization coalitions, and community public health and safety networks that serve youth.
The survey also produces an analytic dataset for use by behavioral and public health researchers and provides data to various community stakeholders for use in federal, state, local or private agency grant applications.
The 2021 Healthy Youth Survey represents a collaborative effort of the Health Care Authority - Division of Behavioral Health and Recovery (DBHR), the Department of Health (DOH), the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI), the Liquor and Cannabis Board (LCB), and the contractor, Looking Glass Analytics.
Representatives of these agencies serve as members on the Healthy Youth
Survey Planning Committee, which guides every aspect of the survey
development and implementation. In addition, stakeholders such as
University of Washington and Washington State researchers, local health
jurisdictions, educational agencies, and other local partners provide
valuable input into the development and administration of the survey.
The 2021 Healthy Youth Survey was funded by legislative appropriation from the Dedicated Marijuana Account.
The questionnaire includes items about demographics; alcohol, marijuana,
tobacco, vaping and other drug use; health concerns (nutrition and fitness,
health conditions and health care, behaviors related to
intentional/unintentional injuries, mental health); school climate;
hope; and risk and protective factors (community, school,
peer and individual, and family). Removable survey items include
questions about sexual behavior and sexual violence.
Rational & Description of Survey Content
There are three versions of the survey:
- Form A and B are for 8th, 10th and 12th graders. Two versions, A and B are administered so that a greater number of questions can be asked in the limited time allotted (one class period). Certain core items are included on both versions. Both versions are administered in every participating secondary classroom, with alternating students receiving either Form A or Form B. Questions about sexual behavior and sexual violence can be removed by schools choosing not to administer them. School District Superintendents could request an exemption to remove questions about sexual orientation and gender identity.
- Form C is for 6th graders. It is shorter and less detailed; it covers topics from both secondary versions.
The survey is available in Spanish, Russian, Ukrainian, and Vietnamese, and the e-survey is screen reader capable.
Questions on the survey have changed over time:
Each survey administration, the survey questions are reviewed and adjusted based on statewide and local needs. The following “changes” documents provide a description of the changes in survey questions from administration to administration:
- Changes from 2004 to 2006 (PDF)
- Changes from 2006 to 2008 (PDF)
- Changes from 2008 to 2010 (PDF)
- Changes from 2010 to 2012 (PDF)
- Changes from 2012 to 2014 (PDF)
- Changes from 2014 to 2016 (PDF)
- Changes from 2016 to 2018 (PDF)
- Changes from 2018 to 2021 (PDF)
The questionnaire items were derived primarily from four established surveys that have been used throughout the United States—some for more than 25 years. Each of these surveys has been subjected to scientific research regarding reliability and validity and has been field tested extensively.
- Communities that Care : developed by Social Development Research Group, University of Washington
- Monitoring the Future : developed by Institute for Social Research, University of Michigan
- Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System : developed by Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
- Global Youth Tobacco Survey : developed by Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
New HYS questions are field tested with youth to make sure they understand the questions correctly.
Research shows that surveys like the HYS give valid results when youth are given a safe and confidential environment to take the survey.