The LGBT Health & Development Program

YRBS Pooling Project

The Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS) Pooling Project and Special Issue was led by the Fenway Health Center for Population Research in LGBT Health LGBTQ Youth Working Group and Dr. Brian Mustanski.  The Project combined data from multiple state and jurisdiction Youth Risk Behavior Surveys (YRBS) to create a larger pooled sample of sexual minority youth. The YRBS is conducted every two years by state, territorial, and local education and health agencies in conjunction with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). These probability surveys are representative of public high school students for the jurisdiction in which they are conducted. While the CDC’s core questionnaire does not contain any measures related to sexual orientation, states and districts have the option of adding additional questions to the CDC core questionnaire regarding sexual orientation, behavior and attraction. The pooling project has merged data sets from 14 jurisdictions from 2005 and 2007.

Researchers affiliated with the LGBTQ Youth Working Group published sixteen new studies on a wide range of topics including victimization and school safety, mental health and suicidality, school achievement, substance use (tobacco, alcohol, and illicit drugs), and sexual health. The studies all analyzed the pooled national population-based dataset that combined information collected under the federally-sponsored YRBS. Dr. Michelle Birkett served as a data analyst for a majority of these manuscripts. Capitalizing on the large size and scope of the pooled dataset, several of these studies shed new light on ethno-racial and gender patterns in LGBQ youth health disparities.  The studies appeared as part of a special issue of the American Journal of Public Health, edited by Stewart Landers and Farzana Kapadia, in 2014. In addition to the empirical studies, the issue included several commentaries on the drivers of LGBTQ health disparities and what we know from science on how to improve the state of LGBTQ health.

Project Coordinators:

    • Judith Bradford, PhD, Fenway Institute
    • Brian Mustanski, PhD, Northwestern University

Partial List of Authors:

    • S. Bryn Austin, PhD Harvard/Boston Children’s Hospital
    • Michelle Birkett, PhD, Northwestern University
    • Wendy Bostwick, PhD, Northern University
    • Heather Corliss, PhD, MPH, Harvard/ Boston Children’s Hospital
    • Bethany Everett, PhD, University of Illinois at Chicago
    • Mark Hatzenbuehler, PhD, Columbia University
    • Tonda Hughes, PhD, MSN, FAAN, University of Illinois at Chicago
    • Ilan Meyer, PhD, University of California Los Angeles
    • Brian Mustanski, PhD, Northwestern University
    • Michael Newcomb, PhD, Northwestern University
    • Charlotte Patterson, PhD, University of Virginia
    • Rachel Riskind, PhD, University of Virginia
    • Sari Reisner, PhD, Harvard University
    • Margaret Rosario, PhD, City University of New York
    • Stephen Russell, PhD, University of Arizona
    • Amelia Talley, PhD, Texas Tech University
    • Aimee Van Wagenen, PhD, Fenway Institute


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