The Arizona Department of Health Services (ADHS) is a Public Health Accreditation Board (PHAB)-accredited public health department that employs over 1,500 employees. One of its core missions is to monitor and assess a variety of public health outcomes, programs, and behaviors across the state. Utilizing strategic partnerships is vital to ensuring that accurate and complete monitoring occurs from year to year. In March 2018 the Arizona Department of Education (ADE) Office of School Health and Safety requested that ADHS support and take the lead in collecting future Youth Risk Behavior Surveys (YRBS) and School Health Profiles (SHPs). This decision was primarily made due to the epidemiological expertise and history of strong public health data collection experience within ADHS.
Monitoring health outcomes is one of the ten key tenets of the public health framework, and that monitoring provides up-to-date information on health trends, program effectiveness and overall state wellness. The 2015 YRBS data collected in Arizona shows that students in grades 9 through 12 showed significantly higher prevalence of making a plan about how they would commit suicide, using marijuana before age 13, having ever used cocaine, and not using a shot, patch or birth control ring before last intercourse to prevent pregnancy as compared to other regional/national youth of the same age. Additionally the 2014 SHPs showed that less than half of reported Arizona secondary schools required any health education course. With strong and consistent data collection, ADHS is able to not only share this information with collaborative state agency partners, but also provide this information to the 15 local public health agencies that ADHS works closely with, oversees and funds annually. This allows local programming to be developed and modified, and also provides feedback on effectiveness and associated positive health outcomes.
With support from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, ADHS and its anchor partner ADE will be able to utilize the CDC-RFA-PS18-1807 funding to promote adolescent health through school-based HIV prevention and school-based surveillance. ADHS is confident that the request for Component 1-only support for school-based surveillance is best aligned with current state activities. Also having no disturbance in the annual collection of school-based surveillance ensures that ADHS and its collaborating partners will be able to continue to validate their local programming without interruption. Scheduled to begin in August 2018, this Arizona Schools Surveillance Project will kick off a five-year school-based surveillance program that will collect YRBS data in years 2019, 2021, and 2023 and SHP data in years 2020 and 2022. ADHS will also be receiving coordination and facilitation support from a strong national data collection firm and state contractor, ICF International. Due to their long and successful history coordinating with ADE to collect YRBS and SHPs in Arizona, ADHS is committed to continuing that strong partnership with both ICF International and ADE.