The Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System
The Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS) is an annual statewide telephone surveillance system designed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Surveillance is conducted on a monthly basis to collect data on modifiable risk behaviors, preventative health practices and health-related conditions contributing to the leading causes of morbidity and mortality in the population. North Dakota’s sample represents randomly selected residents of the non-institutionalized adult household population, ages 18 years and older. Information provided by BRFSS is not available from other sources.
As the only source for comprehensive state-specific population-based estimates of prevalence on preventative health practices and risk behaviors, BRFSS is an important tool for decision-making throughout the public health community. Public and private health authorities at the federal, state and local levels rely on BRFSS to identify public health problems, design policies and interventions, set goals, and measure progress toward those goals. On occasion, the North Dakota BRFSS works with the local public health community to oversample or administer point-in-time health surveys at the county level. The primary focus of this effort has been to acquire data for evaluation and decision-making at the local level.
BRFSS is used nationwide under the direction of CDC so that, while conducted independently, survey methods are standardized across all 50 states, three territories and the District of Columbia. As a result, comparisons can be made to other states and the national average. CDC provides a core questionnaire that the states may choose to supplement with optional modules and state-added questions. Statewide monthly samples are edited and aggregated into yearly datasets. BRFSS activities are supported with financial and technical assistance from CDC. The North Dakota BRFSS was initiated in 1984.
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