What is the Oklahoma Prevention Needs Assessment Survey?

  • Known as the “OPNA”, the Oklahoma Prevention Needs Assessment is a biennial survey of public, private, and charter school students in the 6th, 8th, 10th, and 12th grades.

    The survey is a project of the Oklahoma Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services (ODMHSAS), and has been conducted in Oklahoma since 2004 and is available for students to take either English or Spanish.

    The OPNA is a robust tool for providing direction to schools, districts, and communities to effectively improve the lives of students on a variety of issues including alcohol, tobacco, other drug use, mental health, academic failure, and violence.

    The OPNA measures problem behaviors and risk and protective factors, which are attitudes, behaviors, and opinions that research has shown to be highly correlated with these health risk behaviors.


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Purpose & Administration of the Assessment

    • Identifies substance use and mental health patterns, but also captures risk and protection of problem behaviors (drivers).
    • Provides critical data for planning: selection of evidence-based practices, evaluating progress, and resource allocation.
    • All responses are anonymous - the following data (including those related to substance abuse, psychological distress, and suicidality) reflect overall patterns in the student body, not individual responses.
    • 20-60 minute anonymous risk and protective factor survey of 6th, 8th, 10th, and 12th graders.
    • Administered every other year and aim for at least 70% participation rate.

2018-19 Survey Demographics

    • A total of 7,074 OKCPS students in 6th, 8th, 10th, and 12th grades were included in the district results
    • Achieved nearly 80% participation rate overall
    • A total of 55 school sites participated

     demographics chart

Priorities of Focus

  • A review of OPNA results identified three priority areas for planning and coordination of prevention and intervention services:

    1. Substance Use
    2. High-Risk Behaviors
    3. Psychological Distress

    A summary of key findings and strategies to reduce student risks and increase protections related to these priorities follows.

    1. Substance Use

    Substance use among youth predicts academic failure, lifelong problems with addiction, lost productivity at work during adulthood, family and relationship problems, as well as increased costs to the entire community.

    Alcohol is the number one drug of choice among students. The OPNA tool assesses alcohol by asking students:

    • In the past 30 days, on how many occasions (if any) have you had beer, wine, or hard liquor to drink?
    • In your lifetime, on how many occasions (if any) have you had alcoholic beverages (beer, wine or hard liquor) to drink – more than just a few sips?
    • How many times have you had 5 or more alcoholic drinks in a row in the past 2 weeks? (one or more times)

    Alcohol Use Numbers


    2. High-Risk Behaviors

    • The survey measures the percentage of students whose answers reflect significant risk for substance abuse (and other problem behaviors) due to the presence of certain risk factors.
    • High-risk behavior was prioritized as the most important risk factor to address due to the number of OKCPS students reported as at risk, but also because early and persistent high-risk behavior is predictive of a number of social problems including substance abuse, depression and anxiety, delinquency, teen pregnancy, school drop‐out, and violence.
    • High-risk behaviors are a measurement of involvement in behaviors that are counter to the community’s values, the safety of the community, and healthy attachment/relationships including: being drunk or high at school, getting suspended from school, using or selling illegal drugs, stealing a vehicle, being arrested, attacking someone with the idea of hurting them, carrying a handgun, or having a handgun at school.
    • The presence of high-risk behaviors are shown in two domains: Individual/Peer and Family.

    High Risk Chart

    High Risk Chart 2


    3. Psychological Distress

    • Overall mental health, or psychological distress, is estimated using an adaptation of the K6 Scale developed by Kessler with support from the National Center for Health Statistics for use in the National Health Interview Survey.
    • The tool assesses psychological distress by asking students: "During the past 30 days, how often did you..."
      • feel nervous?
      • feel hopeless?
      • feel restless or fidgety?
      • feel so depressed that nothing could cheer you up?
      • feel that everything was an effort?
      • feel worthless?
    • Student responses are scored on a scale of low, moderate, or high, indicating level of psychological distress and the potential need for mental health treatment.


     Psych Distress Chart


    Psych Distress 2