A key aspect of promoting adolescent health and well-being at the community level is gathering the necessary data to determine priorities, inform strategies, and support local programs and policies. Since 2006, EDC has promoted data-driven improvements in adolescent health and risk behaviors through its administration of the MetroWest Adolescent Health Survey, funded by the MetroWest Health Foundation.
Administered biennially to more than 40,000 middle and high school youth in 25 communities west of Boston, the survey collects self-reported data on health and risk behaviors, including substance use, bullying, mental health, violence, sexual behavior, and physical activity. It also captures data on emerging and evolving behaviors in the adolescent population, such as social media use, vaping, and gambling, and identifies health disparities experienced by groups such as LGBTQ youth and youth with disabilities.
As part of this project, EDC’s role includes the following activities:
- Administer the biennial MetroWest Adolescent Health Survey. Past surveys were collected biennially from 2006 through 2018 and then in 2021 (delayed one year due to COVID-19)
- Analyze results and share local findings with school and community partners, who use the results to drive programs and policies
- Provide customized technical assistance to communities to maximize their use of local data to inform education, prevention, and intervention efforts, including those to address health disparities and promote equity
- Conduct analyses of regional data to inform the field of adolescent health and school health through conference presentations and publications in peer-reviewed journals
- Since 2006, middle school and high school adolescents in 25 communities have completed more than 300,000 surveys about their health and risk behaviors.
- The team publishes survey findings, including in two 2022 reports highlighting 2021 survey results related to the health and well-being of youth in grades 7-9 and 9-12.
- Communities have used survey findings extensively to determine adolescent health priorities, bolster health education and prevention programming, advance local health policies, and engage community members in collective action.
- Survey data have informed regional initiatives to address youth substance use, bullying, and mental health, as well as policy changes across the United States related to tobacco use.