The New Mexico (NM) Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS) and School Profiles Project will establish and maintain systematic surveillance procedures to monitor critical health-related behaviors among high school and middle school students in NM public schools, and the school health policies of NM public high schools and middle schools. New Mexico has a successful history of implementing both the YRBS and the School Profiles. The NM YRBS, managed by a partnership between the NM DOH and the NM Public Education Department (PED), has attained weighted data for every survey cycle since 2005. Under contract by the NM PED, the School Health Profiles Surveys have been implemented by the University of New Mexico Prevention Research Center (PRC) in both survey cycles since 2016, achieving weighted data in 2016. While the 2018 data collection effort is ongoing at the time of this writing, early response indicates a successful survey with strong participation and high-quality data. The NM DOH is requesting $100,000 annually to continue the implementation of both the YRBS and Profiles projects, while building on the profitable partnerships that have made these projects so successful in New Mexico.
New Mexico faces several unique challenges in addressing the concerns of youth health risk behaviors and health policy, including a racially, ethnically, and culturally diverse population that includes a high proportion of native Spanish speakers and 27 different Native American tribes. The New Mexico YRBS project has responded to these challenges by forming a steering committee that includes membership from numerous state agencies including the NM DOH, PED, Human Services Department (HSD), Children Youth and Families Department (CYFD), the University of New Mexico (UNM), and the Albuquerque Area Southwest Tribal Epidemiology Center (AASTEC). The varied makeup of this steering committee has made the NM YRBS more representative of the diverse NM population. These partnerships have also allowed the NM YRBS project to build on support from the CDC to expand our sample size to allow production of school district level estimates for every participating school district of sufficient size. This expanded sample size has allowed more precise estimates of sub-state geographical areas and small population groups. The steering committee is poised to turn its attention to include the Profiles Project as well as the YRBS.
The NM DOH will build on and implement the work plan presented in this application. The final work plan, as negotiated with and approved by CDC/DASH, will address survey implementation, including the survey schedule, questionnaire, and sampling and data collection procedures. Embedded in the plan will be an evaluation and performance measurement plan that encourages schools to participate in the NM YRBS and School Profiles Project, and promotes the importance of obtaining state and school district level weighted data. Survey data will be disseminated through multiple modes to school districts, public health offices, state agencies, tribal governments and other key stakeholders to improve school health programs and policies that impact the student health and academic achievement, and to identify health disparities and inequities among school-age youth. Regional trainings will be conducted to build capacity at the local level to successfully apply the data. Special communications will be developed and disseminated to the NM State Legislature on an annual basis to inform law makers about critical health-related behaviors and policies among students. The NM YRBS and School Profiles Project will promote the surveys, disseminate the data and assist with data application for policy and program improvement that impact student health and academic achievement and to identify health disparities among school-age youth.