The Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System is the nation's premier system of health-related telephone surveys that collect data about U.S. residents regarding their health-related risk behaviors, chronic health conditions, and access and use of preventive services. BRFSS collects data in all 50 states as well as the District of Columbia and three U.S. territories. BRFSS completes more than 400,000 adult interviews each year, making it the largest continuously conducted health survey system in the world.
Trained BRFSS interviewers ask questions related to behaviors that are associated with preventable chronic diseases, injuries, and infectious diseases. Respondents are selected by landline telephone and cellphone numbers through random-digit dialing. Only one respondent per household (adult over 18 years old) is selected in a randomized selection process. The information from all of the interviews is confidential and is conducted according to strict CDC protocol. Multi-lingual interviews are also conducted for a more inclusive data collection process.
BRFSS data may be used to identify emerging health problems; establish and track health objectives; develop, implement, and evaluate a broad array of disease prevention activities; and support health-related legislative efforts.
The BRFSS has also been used to:
- Provide risk behavior statistics to several health and human services systems agencies to support program development and evaluation.
- Document the need for and monitor the progress of prevention programs, including those targeting breast and cervical cancer.
- Identify populations at high risk for certain health conditions, such as diabetes, and assess the health behavior of these populations to support intervention program development.
For more information about the BRFSS, visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) BRFSS websites:
Roméo J. Guerra, M.A.
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