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Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS)

The Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS) is a state-based computer-assisted telephone interviewing effort conducted in cooperation with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Questions are constructed to determine the behaviors of individuals that will affect their risk of developing chronic diseases that may lead to premature mortality and morbidity. The data collected helps to identify high risk populations that can be targeted for intervention programs. The data can also be used to track changes over time of prevalence of risk factor behaviors and related diseases, and can assess the impact of health promotion and prevention intervention programs. Currently, every state in the country, the District of Columbia, and three U.S. territories are members of this surveillance system. The Tennessee Department of Health has been participating in this system on a continuing basis since 1984, surveying adults from randomly selected households throughout the state every month.

These surveys were developed and conducted to monitor state-level prevalence of the major behavioral risks among adults associated with premature morbidity and mortality. Many of the behavioral risk factors surveyed in this system cannot be obtained from any other health statistics sources and this system serves as an important, timely, accurate, and often sole, resource in measuring and monitoring the personal health behaviors and lifestyle conditions that are related to good or poor health outcomes or situations.

Although the BRFSS system was originally designed to collect state-level data and make state-level inference, a number of states from the outset stratified their samples to allow them to estimate prevalence of behavioral risk factors for sub-regions within their respective states.

Tennessee began this process of stratifying their samples for Health Department regional data beginning with the 2005 BRFSS data.

Related BRFSS Links