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Matern Child Health J. 2008 Jul;12 Suppl 1:76-81. doi: 10.1007/s10995-008-0351-3. Epub 2008 May 16.

Urban American Indian and Alaska Native youth: youth risk behavior survey 1997-2003.

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Urban Indian Health Institute, Seattle Indian Health Board, P.O. Box 3364, Seattle, WA 98114, USA.



To examine the prevalence of health risk-behaviors among American Indian/Alaska Native (AI/AN) youth in urban areas.


Data from the national Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS) for the years 1997-2003 were used for the analyses (Urban sample = 52,364). The YRBS is a self-report questionnaire administered to a sample of 9th-12th grade students intended to monitor health risk-behaviors. "Urban" is defined as areas within a Metropolitan Statistical Area. Whites are used as the comparison group for the examination of AI/AN estimates.


Urban AI/AN youth represented 1% of the urban sample (N = 513). The presence of a number of risk-behaviors were at least threefold higher in AI/AN compared to white youth in urban areas, including suicidal behaviors, feeling unsafe at school and needing medical treatment from a fight. Other factors were over twofold higher among AI/AN, including sexual behaviors, illegal drug use, violence at school, and experiences of rape, assault and pregnancy.


The higher prevalence of health risk-behaviors in urban AI/AN compared to white youth reflects a need for interventions focused on urban AI/AN youth.

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