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J Adolesc Health. 2001 Nov;29(5):337-43.

Prevalence of health-related behaviors among alternative high school students as compared with students attending regular high schools.

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  • 1Division of Adolescent and School Health, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, Georgia 30341, USA.



To provide national data on health-risk behaviors of students attending alternative high schools and compare the prevalence of these risk behaviors with data from the 1997 national Youth Risk Behavior Survey.


The national Youth Risk Behavior Survey uses a three-stage cluster sampling design. Data were collected from 8918 students in alternative high schools in 1998 (ALT-YRBS) and 16,262 students in regular high schools in 1997 (YRBS). The health-risk behaviors addressed include behaviors that contribute to unintentional injuries and violence, tobacco use, alcohol and other drug use, sexual behaviors, unhealthy dietary behaviors, and physical inactivity. A weighing factor was applied to each student record to adjust for nonresponse and varying probabilities of selection. SUDAAN was used to compute 95% confidence intervals, which were considered significant if the 95% confidence intervals did not overlap.


Students attending alternative high schools were at significantly greater risk than students in regular high schools for violence-related injury; suicide; human immunodeficiency virus infection or other sexually transmitted diseases; pregnancy; and development of chronic disease related to tobacco use, unhealthy dieting practices, and lack of vigorous activity.


Many students in alternative high schools are at risk for both acute and chronic health problems. Because these youth are still in a school setting, alternative high schools are in a unique position to provide programs to help decrease the prevalence of risk-taking behaviors.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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