The COMPASS study: a longitudinal hierarchical research platform for evaluating natural experiments related to changes in school-level programs, policies and built environment resources Journal Articles uri icon

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  • BACKGROUND: Few researchers have the data required to adequately understand how the school environment impacts youth health behaviour development over time. METHODS/DESIGN: COMPASS is a prospective cohort study designed to annually collect hierarchical longitudinal data from a sample of 90 secondary schools and the 50,000+ grade 9 to 12 students attending those schools. COMPASS uses a rigorous quasi-experimental design to evaluate how changes in school programs, policies, and/or built environment (BE) characteristics are related to changes in multiple youth health behaviours and outcomes over time. These data will allow for the quasi-experimental evaluation of natural experiments that will occur within schools over the course of COMPASS, providing a means for generating "practice based evidence" in school-based prevention programming. DISCUSSION: COMPASS is the first study with the infrastructure to robustly evaluate the impact that changes in multiple school-level programs, policies, and BE characteristics within or surrounding a school might have on multiple youth health behaviours or outcomes over time. COMPASS will provide valuable new insight for planning, tailoring and targeting of school-based prevention initiatives where they are most likely to have impact.


  • Leatherdale, Scott T
  • Brown, K Stephen
  • Carson, Valerie
  • Childs, Ruth A
  • Dubin, Joel A
  • Elliott, Susan
  • Faulkner, Guy
  • Hammond, David
  • Manske, Steve
  • Sabiston, Catherine M
  • Laxer, Rachel E
  • Bredin, Chad
  • Thompson-Haile, Audra

publication date

  • December 2014