Declining health risk exposure among Chicago public high school students: Trends from the Youth Risk Behavior Survey 1997–2017

Jacqueline Korpics*, Audrey Stillerman, Keiki Hinami, Sadhana Dharmapuri, Joseph Feinglass

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


There have been improvements nationally in teenagers' self-reported health risk since the 1990s. This study provides an overview of trends in substance use, sexual health, violence and victimization, and suicide risk among Chicago Public High School (CPS) students over a 20-year period. We compared responses to 29 identically worded items from the 1997, 2007, and 2017 Chicago Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS) in the four domains. We show changes in responses across individual items, mean changes across the four domains, and change in the proportion of students with highest risk exposure (≥10 affirmative responses). Analyses control for CPS students’ grade, sex, and race/ethnicity. Reductions in substance use, sexual health risk, and violence and victimization (30, 40% and 40% in the mean number of affirmative responses, respectively) were observed. Suicide risk showed an initial improvement from 1997 to 2007, only to worsen by 2017 and show little difference from 1997. There was an approximate 70% decrease in the likelihood of being in the high multiple risk category (≥10 affirmative responses) in 2017 compared to 1997 (OR 0.33; CI 0.22-0.49). In alignment with national trends, our study documents significant improvement in Chicago public high school students’ long-term health risk exposure over the 20-year study period, with the notable exception of suicide risk. This study emphasizes the need to invest in strategies both inside and outside of the classroom to mitigate the effect of adversity and promote protective factors, which are at the root of academic success and overall wellbeing.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number101161
JournalPreventive Medicine Reports
StatePublished - Dec 2020


  • Adolescent
  • Childhood adversity
  • Health behaviors
  • Mental health
  • Multiple risk
  • Risk behaviors
  • Sexual health
  • Substance use
  • Suicide risk
  • Teenage
  • Victimization
  • Violence

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health Informatics
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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