Youth Health Surveys

Since 2003, CTC has worked with school districts in Franklin County and the North Quabbin to conduct the annual Teen Health Survey of students in grades 8, 10 and 12. The survey examines student behaviors, and assesses "risk factors" that increase the likelihood of problem behaviors and "protective factors" that help keep our youth safe. Topics covered in recent surveys include mental health, violence in the community, attitudes about peer risk taking, dating and sexuality, exercise and nutrition, and decision-making. Using the results of the survey, we are better able to design programs, secure funding, and educate parents, students and the community.

Nine school districts participate in the regional survey: Athol/Royalston, Four Rivers Public Charter School, Franklin County Technical School, Frontier, Gill-Montague, Greenfield, Mohawk Trail, and Pioneer Valley, and Ralph C. Mahar.

To broaden and enrich the information the surveys provide, we use three different survey instruments in a three-year cycle. Each survey has its particular strengths and uses.

For more information about the Teen Health Survey, contact Jeanette Voas.

The Communities That Care Member Survey

Many thanks to those of you who took the CTC member survey. We had 51 responses, and tremendously thoughtful input on the open-ended questions. The Coordinating Council will use the findings in the ongoing strategic planning process. On the whole, respondents expressed satisfaction with

  • Provision of information about youth health, 94%, satisfied or very satisfied
  • Efforts to promote collaboration, 90%
  • Participation of influential people from key sectors, 90%
  • Clarity of vision, 88%
  • Follow-through on plans, 86%
  • Communication among members of the Coalition, 73%
  • Helping members articulate how their work is connected to a community-wide effort, 73%

Areas for growth include:

  • Using members’ skills effectively, 58% satisfied
  • Helping members improve programs in their own organizations, 54% satisfied)
  • Communication about issues of concern and resources to address them, 69% satisfied
Charts showing responses to all questions are available here.

Focus Groups and Interviews

In 2015-2016, CTC conducted a set of interviews and focus groups as a part of a community assessment on the topic of youth substance use. The report on findings for all community stakeholders is available here. A separate report on the focus groups conducted among youth is available here.

The Youth Risk Behavior Survey

The Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS) was developed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Every other year, the CDC conducts a national YRBS, and the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education conducts a state YRBS. Using the YRBS locally therefore enables us to compare our young people to their peers in the state and nation as a whole. The YRBS examines only behaviors (not contributing factors) but covers a broader range of behaviors than does the PNAS. CTC used the YRBS to survey students in 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, and 2019.

The Prevention Needs Assessment Survey

The Prevention Needs Assessment Survey (PNAS) asks students about substance use and violence, and assesses risk and protective factors that underlie risky behaviors. The detail the PNAS provides on risk and protective factors in the school, family, and community have proven valuable for community assessment and strategic planning. CTC conducted the PNAS in area schools in 2003, 2006, 2009, and 2012 providing data to gauge trends over time. The trends show that substance use is down. We also see an improvement in school climate, an important contributor to healthy behaviors.

The Custom Survey

In addition to the YRBS and PNAS surveys described below, every three years CTC uses a survey of its own design, so as to explore emerging issues and issues of local importance that are not addressed in the standard national surveys. The survey retains a core set of questions from national surveys to maintain an annual check on critical behaviors, and it draws research-tested questions from established surveys to the extent possible. It is designed by the Regional School Health Task Force (RSHTF) with the aim of providing information desired by local schools and community groups. Community members interested in particular data for needs assessments, program evaluations or grant applications are invited to submit their ideas to the RSHTF for possible inclusion in the custom survey. The 2017 survey  incorporated a US Department of Education survey on school climate.