217678 Inquiring about sex behavior in a conservative state: Adding questions about sex behaviors to the YRBS in Utah

Monday, November 8, 2010

Bradley Hunter, MPH , School of Medicine and Dentistry, University of Rochester, Rochester, NY
Eden Anderson, MPH (c) , Department of Health Science, Brigham Young University, Provo, UT
Marcee Mortensen, MPH (c) , Department of Health Science, Brigham Young University, Provo, UT
Catherine Wagley, MPH (c) , Department of Health Science, Brigham Young University, Provo, UT
Christine Young, MPH (c) , Department of Health Science, Brigham Young University, Provo, UT
Issues: How can Utah gain access to sufficient YRBS data to effectively plan, implement and evaluate programs and services that aim to reduce risky sexual behavior and associated health complications among adolescents?

Description: Utah has skyrocketing rates of Chlamydia and Gonorrhea. In 2007, there were 5,721 reported cases of Chlamydia in Utah, and 821 reported cases of Gonorrhea, making them the 1st and 4th most prevalent infectious diseases, respectively, in the state. These diseases were most commonly diagnosed in 15-29 year-olds. It is difficult to implement effective programming for adolescents because no data exist concerning sex behaviors among teens. MPH students at Brigham Young University performed a policy analysis to determine the feasibility and efficacy of including questions regarding sex behavior to Utah's administration of the Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS). Analysis included identifying stakeholders on both sides of the issue and then conducting interviews to determine the best course of action for collecting sex behavior data.

Lessons Learned: Allocating funding for professional public opinion polling is a smart investment. Polling data which demonstrate that an overwhelming majority of parents are in favor of the sex behavior questions carry the most weight among state legislators and school districts. These data show that vocal minorities can be overcome by relatively inexpensive public opinion polls. This solution may prove useful for other traditionally conservative states.

Recommendations: Inform local health agencies and other state health departments about the potential power of professional public opinion polling.

Learning Areas:
Advocacy for health and health education
Planning of health education strategies, interventions, and programs
Program planning
Protection of the public in relation to communicable diseases including prevention or control
Public health or related education
Public health or related laws, regulations, standards, or guidelines

Learning Objectives:
Identify effective means of collecting data related to sexuality in a socially conservative state.

Keywords: Sexual Risk Behavior, Policy/Policy Development

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I have directed programming for an STD social marketing campaign for the Utah Department of Health and I recently conducted a policy analysis for the Utah Department of Health concerning the YRBS survey.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.