Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS)
As part of the Kent County Community Health Needs Assessment, the Kent County Health Department (KCHD) gathers information, opinions and data about health and social issues from those who live in the community every three years. To aid in this process, KCHD participates in the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS), which has a long history of collecting information on health behaviors and chronic disease. Fifteen states participated in the first BRFSS, conducted in 1984. BRFSS now 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. Kent County previously conducted a BRFSS survey in 2008 and 2014.
BRFSS collects data on behavioral health risk factors associated with the leading causes of premature mortality and morbidity among adults. By collecting behavioral health risk data at the state and local level, BRFSS has become a powerful tool for targeting and building health promotion activities. As a result, BRFSS users have increasingly demanded more data and asked for more questions on the survey.
What is the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS)?
BRFSS is the nation's premier system of health-related telephone surveys that collect state data about U.S. residents regarding their health-related risk behaviors, chronic health conditions, 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. BRFSS Fact Sheet
How do you conduct the survey?
With technical and methodological assistance from CDC, the Kent County Health Department is using telephone call centers operated by a contracted company to administer the BRFSS survey. The survey is conducted using Random Digit Dialing (RDD) techniques on both landlines and cell phones.
For more information about survey methodology and how it was updated in 2011 to permit use of cell phones for data collection, see this fact sheet. More detailed technical information on the methodology of the BRFSS can be found in the annual Summary Data Quality Report. The Summary Data Quality Reports can be found with each year's data.
What type of information does the BRFSS collect? How often is it collected?
BRFSS collects state data about U.S. residents regarding their health-related risk behaviors and events, chronic health conditions, and use of preventive services. BRFSS also collects data on important emerging health issues such as vaccine shortage and influenza-like illness. Locally, Kent County aims to conduct a survey every five years. The last Kent County survey was done in 2008.
What is done with this information?
Currently, all states collect BRFSS data to help them establish and track state and local health objectives, plan health programs, implement disease prevention and health promotion activities, and monitor trends. Nearly two thirds of states use BRFSS data to support health-related legislative efforts. For more information and examples of how BRFSS data helped to inform legislative efforts, see this fact sheet.
Who takes part in the BRFSS survey? Are they compensated?
Adults 18 years or older are asked to take part in the survey. Participants are not compensated monetarily but should know that they are taking part in a rewarding endeavor that helps improve the health of U.S. residents.
- Can I download the survey data? Is documentation available?
What are the components of the BRFSS questionnaire?
The CDC uses a standardized core questionnaire—where some core questions are asked every year (fixed core) and others are asked every other year (rotating core)—optional modules—that those conducting the survey can choose to use according to need—and state-added questions. The content of the BRFSS questionnaire has been determined by KCHD Staff in collaboration with community partners.
- Where can I obtain a copy of the BRFSS questionnaire?
Is the BRFSS questionnaire available in languages other than English?
The questionnaire is also available in Spanish.
How are home telephone numbers obtained?
Home telephone numbers are obtained through random-digit dialing. All phone calls will be conducted by the contracted research company.
- I have other questions. Whom should I ask?