The YRBS was developed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to monitor priority health risk behaviors that contribute to the leading causes of death, disease, injury, and social problems among youth. The Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (Department) — in collaboration with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Massachusetts Department of Public Health (DPH) — conducts the Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS) in randomly selected public high schools in every odd-numbered years. The Massachusetts YRBS (MYRBS) focuses on the major risk behaviors that threaten the health and safety of young people. This anonymous survey includes questions about tobacco use, alcohol and other drug use, sexual behaviors that might lead to unintended pregnancy or sexually transmitted disease, dietary behaviors, physical activity, and behaviors associated with intentional or unintentional injuries. Since 2007, the MYRBS has been conducted jointly with the Massachusetts Youth Health Survey (MYHS) developed by DPH.
The Massachusetts YRBS has been providing representative data about youth health risk behaviors since 1993.
Data from the MYRBS provide accurate estimates of the prevalence of risk behaviors among public high school students in the Commonwealth and are used to determine statewide changes in the prevalence of these behaviors over time. The data are important for planning health education and risk prevention programs. Additionally, the results of the MYRBS contribute to a national database of adolescent risk behaviors. Through careful examination of the MYRBS results, state and local agencies use the data to set priorities for improving the health of students across the Commonwealth.
Results for individual schools, districts, towns, or regions are not possible from the statewide MYRBS, as survey methodology is designed to give state level estimates only. Many schools and districts choose to conduct or participate in local surveys to gather important data about the risk behaviors of their own students. While sometimes confused with the MYRBS, these surveys are not administered, monitored, or tracked by the Department. Any reports or data tables that include results by school or district are not published by the Department and do not represent data from the MYRBS.
Chiniqua Milligan, MPH
School Health Analyst
Office of Student and Family Support
Mental Health Summary
2015 Executive Summary and Data Tables
2013 Health and Risk Behaviors of Massachusetts Youth
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has created an online application, Youth Online, by which individuals can analyze national, state, and local Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System (YRBSS) data from all years YRBS has been administered. Data from high school and middle school surveys are included (Massachusetts does not conduct a YRBS in middle schools). Individuals can filter and sort on the basis of race/ethnicity, sex, grade, or site; create customized tables and graphs; and perform statistical tests by site and health topic. CDC does not include results of any questions that were added or modified for the state survey. Additionally, YRBS Explorer, allows users to explore YRBS national, state and local school district data via tables and graphs.
For individual researchers and organizations who wish to access additional MYRBS data, please read and complete the data use agreement form found below. The agreement outlines the terms and conditions for Department data sharing and must be filled out completely and returned to the Department. The returned agreement will serve as the official data request.
Data Use Agreement Form
Use this form to request MYRBS and or MA School Health Profiles Data (Profiles). Data is available 1993–2019 for YRBS and 1998 – 2020 for Profiles.
Youth Risk Behavior Data Collection Community of Practice
The Youth Risk Behavior Data Collection Community of Practice (CoP) launched in January 2021 with the intent to provide opportunities for those involved in youth risk data collection across the Commonwealth to build connections and relationships with each other, the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE), and the Massachusetts Department of Public Health (DPH). The Youth Risk Behavior Data Collection CoP is a voluntary learning network for schools, districts, and communities involved in youth risk behavior data collection efforts to collaborate on topics of interest and address common challenges and needs.
By joining the CoP, participants can:
Increase your knowledge and understanding of state and local surveying practices.
Collaborate with state, regional, and local youth risk data collection efforts.
Share specific survey administration challenges and discuss potential solutions.
Learn about and contribute to a collection of promising practices related to survey design, data collection and analysis, and data interpretation.
Identify and set a long-term goal for the CoP.
For more information about the CoP, please contact: OSFS.SchoolBasedSurveys@mass.gov
Join the CoP
CDC's Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System (YRBSS)
CDC's A Guide to Conducting Your Own Youth Risk Behavior Survey
2019 YRBS Question Item Rationale
Massachusetts Youth Health Survey (MYHS)
Last Updated: December 9, 2022
Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education
75 Pleasant Street, Malden, MA 02148-4906
Voice: (781) 338-3000
TTY: (800) 439-2370
Disclaimer: A reference in this website to any specific commercial products, processes, or services, or the use of any trade, firm, or corporation name is for the information and convenience of the public and does not constitute endorsement or recommendation by the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education.