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Abstract

The goal of this paper is to discuss practical recommendations for collecting data with hard to reach populations and data comparability. We also discuss the importance of piloting and community involvement in the process using an example from the Tribal Prevention Initiative (TiPI), a culturally-based substance abuse prevention program for American Indian youth from six tribes in Montana and Wyoming. We piloted a survey based on standardized Youth Risk Factor Behavioral Surveillance Survey questions (YRBSS) in tribal communities to document substance use and norms. The revised TiPI survey resulted in a 16-question survey (N=711). We compared TiPI data with the YRBSS data from 2015 to 2019. Descriptive statistics (frequency (n) and percent (%) or mean (M) and standard deviation (SD)) were used to analyze data. Results indicate that substance use is generally lower among TiPI youth than YRBS youth in reservation and urban locations with the exception of middle school marijuana use and urban binge drinking. To improve public health and document progress toward healthy future generations, communities must be aware of the unique challenges of using national surveys like the YRBSS as comparison data, and the strengths of primary data collection driven by program needs.

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