Healthy Youth Survey

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 2018 administration was the sixteenth such statewide survey of Washington students and participation has been steadily increasing over time. In 2018, over 230,000 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.

Statewide Support

The 2018 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 Healthy Youth Survey is financially supported by the state; schools contribute staff time and duplication of an informational flyer for parents. The 2018 Healthy Youth Survey was funded by an appropriation from the Dedicated Marijuana Account.


The questionnaire includes items about demographics; alcohol, marijuana, tobacco and other drug use; health concerns (nutrition and fitness, health conditions and health care, behaviors related to intentional/unintentional injuries, mental health); school climate; quality of life; and risk and protective factors (community, school, peer and individual, and family). Optional survey items include questions about sexual orientation, behavior, and abuse.

The HYS questions come from standardized instruments that have been used over multiple years and tested for validity. New HYS questions are field tested with youth to make sure they understand the questions correctly. Research shows that surveys like the HYS can give valid results if youth are given a safe and confidential environment to take the survey.

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 Form A or either Form B. The survey forms are formatted such that the optional questions about sexual orientation, behavior, and abuse can be removed by schools choosing not to administer them.
  • 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. Students read a translated questionnaire but respond on the English-language answer sheet to preserve anonymity. Spanish-language survey materials and administration instructions are sent to all participating schools.

Questions on the survey have changed over time:

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.

Problems or Questions? Contact Us
HYS Toll-Free Telephone Number: (877) 497-7111
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