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Background Information

Oregon Healthy Teens (OHT) is Oregon's effort to monitor the health and well-being of adolescents. An anonymous and voluntary research-based survey, OHT is conducted among 8th and 11th graders statewide. The OHT survey incorporates two youth surveys that preceded it, the YRBS and the Student Drug Use Survey.

 
Why does Oregon conduct the Oregon Healthy Teens survey?
OHT is fundamental to ensuring that young people arrive at adulthood with the skills, interests, assets, and health habits needed to live healthy, happy, and productive lives in caring relationships with other people. The information gathered in this survey enables schools and communities to know what proportion of their young people are developing successfully and what proportion is having problems. It allows them to assess whether the things they are doing are improving outcomes for young people.
 
How does the survey make a difference in youth health and well-being?
Over the past 20 years, research has identified an increasing number of effective approaches to preventing these problems. These include programs and policies that support families, school practices, media interventions, and neighborhood and community-wide efforts. Accurate estimates of the extent of youth problems are essential for knowing which schools and communities need which programs and whether the programs, when implemented, are working.
 
Oregon Healthy Teens monitors the factors that influence successful development. Research has shown that risk factors and assets that affect young people include family, school, neighborhood, and community characteristics. By measuring these influences as well as youth behavior, the OHT survey provides information to help schools and communities focus on the things that are most important to ensure successful youth development. As we develop a system for monitoring youth well-being, we will become better and better able to ensure that the largest possible proportion of young people achieve its full potential.
 
What topics are included in the survey?
  • Tobacco, alcohol and other drug use
  • Access to tobacco and alcohol
  • Personal safety behaviors and perceptions
  • Violence?related behaviors
  • Diet and exercise
  • Extracurricular activities
  • Sexual activity and HIV/AIDS knowledge
  • Health conditions and access to care
  • Individual, peer, community and family influences on risk behaviors

 

How are the rights of families protected?
In the weeks prior to the survey, parents/guardians receive a letter asking permission for their student to fill out the questionnaire. The parent or guardian is given the option to refuse consent. In addition, each student has the option to decline the survey, or to skip any question they don't want to answer.
 
How is the confidentiality of the student protected?

The OHT survey is anonymous; students are not asked for their names. Once the surveys have been completed and collected, there is no identifying information linking a questionnaire to an individual student or parent. In addition, the information reported to the school district is aggregated-it is grouped by grade level and gender, and no individual set of information is identified in these reports.

How long have school-based surveys been used for statewide health monitoring in Oregon?
Historically, two agencies in the Department of Human Services administered two school-based youth surveys on alternating years Oregon: the CDC-based Youth Risk Behavioral Survey (YRBS), administered in odd-numbered years since 1991, and the Student Drug Use survey (including Risk and Protective factor information) in even-numbered years since 1996. While each survey provided data on part of the key indicators for many state and national strategic assessments and plans, a more coordinated approach was needed to help develop consistent, yearly tracking of key indicators, and increase the usefulness of data to local communities and schools.
 
How do state agencies, local health departments, schools, and other groups use the survey data?
OHT data are used to help evaluate the effectiveness of a variety of projects and programs that promote healthy adolescence in Oregon. They are a key source of state and national leading health indicators, such as those included in the Oregon Benchmarks and Healthy People 2010.
 
Survey findings serve as a valuable tool for legislators and other policy makers as they make decisions about health related policies, services, programs, and educational activities. Agencies, non-profit organizations, and community groups use the data to provide base-line and evaluation information required for grants and other funding sources, and for planning and evaluating activities and programs that promote health and ability to learn, prevent injury, and reduce high risk behaviors among youth. Many Oregon counties and local communities use OHT survey information in community health assessments.
 
Many schools and communities use the results from this survey in the process of obtaining Safe and Drug Free Schools funding and other grants to enhance local prevention resources. Obtaining such funding relies on the proven strategy of being able to demonstrate need and provide accountability by measuring outcomes.
 
Parents, school staff members, and community groups can use the information to identify areas where help is most needed for students to change behavior, and they can use that opportunity to develop and support activities and environments that encourage healthy behaviors.

 

How do I see the survey questions or results?
All OHT reports going back to 1997, including questionnaires and data tables, are available on our data page.