Maine Integrated Youth Health Survey Data

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MIYHS: Maine Integrated Youth Health Survey

Frequently Asked Questions

General Information

What is the Maine Integrated Youth Health Survey?

The purpose of the Maine Integrated Youth Health Survey (MIYHS) is to assess the health status of Maine’s youth, as well as the positive and negative attitudes and behaviors that influence healthy development. Data from the MIYHS can be used by schools, community organizations, and state agencies to plan and evaluate prevention programs and to provide the basis for grant applications.

The MIYHS represents the collaborative effort of the Department of Health and Human Services's Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention (Maine CDC) and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services (SAMHS) with the Department of Education.

Who funds the Maine Integrated Youth Health Survey?

The MIYHS is funded by the Maine CDC with Tobacco Settlement funds and Maternal and Child Health state match funds, by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services with Federal Substance Abuse Block Grant funds, and by the US CDC through a grant administered by the Maine Department of Education.

What grades does the MIYHS include?

The MIYHS is made up of four survey modules that target four different age levels:

  • High school (four versions with 100-108 questions each)
  • Middle school [seventh and eighth grades] (four versions with 80 questions each)
  • Fifth/sixth grade (50 questions)
  • Kindergarten/third grade PARENT survey (50 questions)

How often is the MIYHS offered?

The first MIYHS was administered in February 2009, and will continue to be offered during odd-numbered years.

Survey Contents

What topics does the MIYHS cover?

Topics include: substance abuse, bullying and violence, unintentional injuries, sexual behavior, health status (including oral health), disabilities, physical activity, weight, nutrition, suicide, depression, asthma, diabetes, and developmental assets.

Where do the questions on the MIYHS come from?

The MIYHS replaces the Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS), the Maine Youth Drug and Alcohol Use Survey (MYDAUS), the Youth Tobacco Survey (YTS) and the Maine Child Health Survey (MCHS), and incorporates questions from these surveys and the Search Institute’s Assets survey. Additional questions are incorporated from other credible and widely-used surveys. Questions are reviewed and changed each year through state lead focus groups to ensure the most relevant and scientifically sound questions are utilized.

Will asking questions about certain topics actually encourage certain behaviors?

There is no evidence that simply asking students about health risk behaviors will encourage them to try that behavior.

School and Student Participation

How long does it take to complete a MIYHS questionnaire?

One class period (or approximately forty minutes) is needed for students to complete the pencil and paper survey.

Is parental permission obtained?

Yes. Schools communicate with the parents of their students through parental consent letters mailed out via the United States Postal Service. Parents may opt their children out of the survey. This type of content is known as passive consent. The MIYHS protocol, including obtaining parental consent, is reviewed by the Institutional Review Board (IRB) at the Maine CDC prior to the survey administration to ensure the protection of student privacy.

Are students required to participate in the MIYHS

No. Participating in the MIYHS is voluntary. Parents may opt their child out of the survey and students may choose not to participate.

Does the MIYHS track specific students over time?

No. Except for the K/3 version, the survey is anonymous, and therefore students cannot be tracked over time. For the K/3 survey, identifiers help us match data from measured heights, weights and the oral health screen with parent responses. All identifiers are destroyed after the data are matched.

What schools are eligible to participate in the MIYHS?

Public schools with students in any of the grades listed above are eligible to participate in the MIYHS, as well as non-sectarian private schools with 60% or more publicly-funded students.

How are schools selected to participate in the MIYHS

The selection of schools depends on the survey module.

  • Kindergarten/third grade PARENT survey:
    • 24 schools are selected to support statewide results. The sample is stratified by county and the percent of students receiving free or reduced lunch.
  • Fifth/sixth grade student survey:
    • Around 125 schools with either fifth and/or sixth grade students are selected to support Public Health District and State results.
  • Middle School Survey(seventh & eighth grade):
    • All schools with an enrollment greater than 10 students are invited to participate. This is designed to support county, Public Health District, and state results.
  • High School (ninth through twelfth grade):
    • All schools with an enrollment greater than 10 students are invited to participate. This is designed to support county, Public Health District, and state results.

Can my school volunteer to participate in the MIYHS?

Schools containing 5th or 6th grades not selected to be a part of the fifth/sixth grade survey sample can volunteer to participate in the MIYHS. Schools with the Kindergarten and 3rd grade sample must be selected. All Middle Schools (7th & 8th grade) and High Schools with more than ten students are already selected for the survey and encouraged to participate.

How does the MIYHS protect student privacy and confidentiality?

The MIYHS protocol and reporting conventions are designed to protect student confidentiality. For instance, on the day of the survey, monitors are asked to remain at the front of the room, and completed surveys are placed in envelopes that are then sealed. The MIYHS does not ask for the student's name or birthday. Data are not released on schools or individual grades when fewer than 20 students in that school or grade participated in the survey, or when the data in any one cell represents fewer than 6 students. The MIYHS protocols are reviewed by the Institutional Review Board (IRB) at the Maine CDC to ensure student's privacy and confidentiality are protected.

Methodology

What is the methodology of the MIYHS?

A full methodological report is available under the Methodology tab on the MIYHS website.

What does it mean for the data to be "weighted"?

Weighting is a procedure that makes data representative of the population from which it was drawn. Raw data from the MIYHS are weighted to adjust for non-responding schools and students.

In the MIYHS, the sample is selected scientifically and requires an overall response rate on any given module of 50-70% for the data to be weighted.

Validity and Reliability

What kinds of validation or reliability studies have been done on the MIYHS questionnaire?

Most of the questions on the MIYHS have been taken from other national surveys. Some questions are from the National YRBS and have had “test – re-test” studies showing that students answer these questions consistently when they take the survey a second time in a six week period. Many questions are taken from SAMHSA’s “Communities That Care Survey," and these were validated, using correlations between groups of behaviors. Several other credible sources of questions were also used.

How do I know that the MIYHS was answered truthfully?

The MIYHS protocol and reporting conventions are designed to protect student confidentiality, so there is no advantage to the student in giving false information.

Research indicates data of this nature may be gathered as credibly from adolescents as from adults. Previous studies testing the consistency of responses to in-school surveys similar to MIYHS have demonstrated that students reliably answer questions in the same way over a 6 week period. Because it would be difficult to remember previous untruthful answers, these test-retest studies support the premise that most students do answer truthfully.

National YRBS results (of which the MIYHS data are a part) are compared to results from other national, state, and local surveys on similar topics and produce similar results.

In addition, each individual MIYHS survey is checked for conflicting answers, such as a student answering one question about smoking positively and another question negatively. Such answers are thrown out of the data set, and if an individual survey shows a large number of such inconsistencies, that survey is completely thrown out.

Data Use and Availability

When will new MIYHS data be available?

Data for the MIYHS will be available around the end fo the year of survey implementation. Data for the 2015 survey will be available in late 2015.

Do you have a policy on releasing MIYHS data?

Yes. MIYHS data are only released in aggregate in order to safeguard the privacy of individual students and schools. Data for schools are only released to superintendents and principals. Please see the MIYHS Data Release Policy for full details.

How are the MIYHS results used by state agencies, local agencies, and nonprofit organizations?

State agencies use the MIYHS data to track student health and the progress of health initiatives over time. Data are used to set priorities for state and district needs. Data can be used by organizations to support policies and programs that promote health, as well as to seek funding for new and existing initiatives. Agencies use data to set goals and track progress toward meeting community and health promotion program goals.

How can my school district use the MIYHS results?

County, Public Health District and state reports are available for comparison. These data can be helpful in gaining a better understanding of the student population. The data from these reports can be used for planning and evaluating youth health programs, and can be used in grant applications. We recommend that once "trouble spots" are identified, schools focus their resources in these areas using science-based prevention programs.

How do I access MIYHS data for my school or community?

Schools and school districts that participated int he MIYHS have access to their web-based reports if the report is based on information from 20 or more students. Data is available to superintendents and principals through a secure log in on the MIYHS homepage. If you are a school administrator and would like to update or receive your log in information please contact Reid Plimpton at reid.plimpton@maine.gov

County and public health district reports are available on the MIYHS website under the "Reports & Fact Sheets" tab. Report availability depends on the number of responding schools and student response rates.

For additional questions about accessing data please contact Reid Plimpton at reid.plimpton@maine.gov

Contacts