The Massachusetts Youth Health Survey (YHS) is the Massachusetts Department of Public Health's (MDPH) surveillance project to assess the health of youth and young adults in grades 6-12. It is conducted by the MDPH Health Survey Program in collaboration with the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) in randomly selected public middle and high schools in every odd-numbered year. The anonymous survey contains health status questions in addition to questions about risk behaviors and protective factors.

Early in 2006, DESE and DPH began discussions with University of Massachusetts Center for Survey Research (CSR) and the CDC to coordinate the YHS and the DESE's Massachusetts Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS) efforts in order to decrease the burden placed on the schools. The two agencies developed revised versions of the YHS and YRBS surveys. Since 2007, CSR has administered both the YHS and YRBS, and joint reports have been released on the findings.

The YHS instrument currently used provides several different types of measurements:

  • The prevalence of physical and mental health conditions, including chronic disease and disability.
  • The prevalence of risky behaviors that contribute to the leading causes of morbidity and mortality in youth, including:
    • alcohol, illicit drug, and tobacco use,
    • poor diet, physical activity, and weight control, and
    • violence and bullying
  • The YHS also includes measures of possible "protective" factors, such as family support, that are associated with lowered levels of substance abuse and unhealthy behaviors, and which may help make students more "resilient" and less "at risk."

The YHS officially became part of the Health Survey Program (HSP) in the fall of 2010, after being previously housed in the Bureau of Community Health Access and Promotion. The HSP will continue cooperation with DESE.

A core set of questions is common to both the YHS and YRBS surveys, with the YHS middle school survey modified to make questions more comprehensive and appropriate for middle school students. The YHS high school survey provides health indicator questions additional to those found in the YRBS. The YHS is being administered in Massachusetts public middle schools and both the YHS and YRBS are being administered in Massachusetts public high schools. Together, the YHS and the YRBS cover a wide range of topics and the combination of data will allow for powerful state specific estimates.

Available below are the 2011 reports along with Frequently Asked Questions, the combined YHS and YRBS reports for the 2007 and 2009 results, and the 2007 - 2013 YHS questionnaires for middle and high school.

Massachusetts Youth Health Survey Coordination Committee: Bruce Cohen, DPH, Maria McKenna, DPH, Carol Goodenow, DESE, Chiniqua Milligan, DESE, and Anthony Roman, UMASS-Boston CSR.





This information is provided by the Health Survey Program within the Department of Public Health.