Near Shardelle's Desk
The purpose for this request is to access data from the 2015 cycle so that we can identify trends in our survey from the 2015 survey cycle to any subsequent data (including but not limited to the current 2019 data). As always, in sharing any of our results, SAYCW will not identify participants, schools, or school divisions. I hope that this application will explain why this request is necessary and how it will benefit youth and communities in our province.
Why explore trends in the data? We may want to look at changes, for example, in tobacco use across Males and Females from 20015 to 2019.
Sounds good, but why are you asking me? Currently, we can only compare our 2019 data with the results that we provided in the 2015 Provincial Report. Anything that we did not include in that Report cannot be explore from the 2015 data – unless we have your approval through this application. For example, because we do not have a published report of marijuana use in 2015, we cannot compare that question to our 2019 responses. As such, we are asking to access the Cycle 1 (2015) data from your School Division only for the purpose of exploring and sharing trends in the data from 2015. Basically, we are asking that we can continue to use the data from Cycle 1 for this one “trending” purpose. We are not asking to access your data because we forgot to run some analyses or because we want to do more presentations from it! These trending analyses will be helpful to share with Schools, in Reports, at Practitioner Conferences, or in any other way that supports our mission of helping students, schools, and communities.
To do this very important task, two things are required: That we have access to the data, and that the structure of the datasets be comparable to later versions of the survey. My job is to make them comparable and to run analyses, but I cannot access the data from 2015 without your permission.
I would like to share one last consideration that I feel might help to explain how important and beneficial your permission is. Comparing data from one cycle to another requires more than simply formulating two percentages and reporting them. We can run analyses that control for influencing and biasing factors – factors that may have different levels of influence in each dataset and therefore have to be controlled at different rates – and we can get exact measurements of how different/similar the values are across time. To do this, all the data have to be in one file, and the scores from each dataset have to be comparable. A task like this takes months of work – work that is worth it because of the potential that statistics like this can have to sway public understanding.
So if a single school wanted to know if their data on a certain question changed from 2015 to 2019, there is no quick or easy way to tell them until the datasets are comparable and connected. Coding the 2015 data to make it compatible with 2019 (and subsequent) data takes the same amount of time for one school or one student as it would for all 9,230 students from cycle 1: it will take me about 6-8 weeks I expect. As such and in conclusion, obtaining access to the 2015 data from your schools, only for the purpose of comparing results with later datasets, will make it feasible and efficient for me to provide such analyses to any school that makes such a request – and I can fulfill that request within weeks, rather than months.
At the risk of being too redundant, it will enable us to compare data from 2015 to 2019 and subsequent survey data. Arguably, our Date Sharing Agreements in 2015 were quite conservative and restrictive. The 2019 Agreements allow SAYCW to connect the 2019 data to any subsequent survey cycle, as well as to share anonymous findings through more avenues than the Provincial Report (e.g., provincial presentations, social media, peer reviewed publications, and so forth).
The data from this request will only be used by SAYCW Staff and Members, and the data will not be released to any third party. Because this request is by and for SAYCW, and because it will only be used by SAYCW, the request entirely fulfills the Mission of SAYCW.
Specifically, the request will provide more meaning and importance to the statistics that we report. Number, in and of themselves have little meaning and little impact. Numbers become meaningful and powerful when they connect to other numbers. For instance: vaping rates relative to cigarette smoking; physical activity in a rural community relative to other rural communities or urban communities; or screen time in 2015 compared to 2019. Any of these statistics, on their own and without other relatable statistics, are considerably less impactful.
It is very important that analyses be run with purpose and focus. Especially with a large dataset like this one, it is important not to engage in fishing (or data mining) expeditions. However, there are no specific research questions or hypotheses driving this application. We simply want to have access to the cycle 1 dataset in order to assess change from 2015 to later data.
We may include trending analyses in our Provincial Report (anticipating completion of that Report between the up-coming November and January). But we have no end date for trending analyses and reports: we plan to track responses from each survey cycle to the next for as long as SAYCW exists.
We consider all participating School Divisions to be SAYCW’s partners. While we have no specific plan for analyses beyond our need to explore trends from 2015, we will use your support and access to the 2015 data to recode the 2015 data and make it compatible with the current and future data. As mentioned earlier in this application, making the entire 2015 data available for trending purposes will enable us to also conduct specific trending analyses requested by schools. Without recoding the 2015 data, we cannot run trending analyses; and without the opportunity to assess trends on a large scale, SAYCW staff may not have time to recode 2015 for specific schools before Cycle 3.
Support youth and community well-being through the collaborative action of community partners working together. Through evidence, tools and resources, SAYCW supports stakeholders to turn the knowledge gained through the youth health survey into health promoting action.
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