It is conducted by the MDPH Health Survey Program in collaboration with the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (ESE) 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.
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
- 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."