At A Glance

Noteworthy Characteristics

  • Annual data collection.
  • Has large sample sizes nationally and for many states.
  • Random sample.
  • Large sample sizes are available for American Indians/Alaska Natives (AI/ANs) and Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islanders (NH/PIs).
  • State-specific modules cover different topics (e.g., sleep) in select years.
  • Includes state-level and selected metropolitan statistical area-level data.

Website

http://www.cdc.gov/BRFSS/

Purpose

To collect state-specific data about preventive health practices and risk behaviors linked to chronic disease, injuries, and preventable infectious disease for adults in the United States (U.S.).

Target Population

Adults living in households in all 50 U.S. states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Guam, American Samoa, and Palau.

Conducted

Began in 1984. Conducted annually. Most recent year conducted was 2017. Data are available for all years through 2016. Questions may vary over time.

Sponsor

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

Special Note(s)

Data are available for states and select cities and communities. Because BRFSS is conducted individually by state health departments, the questionnaire can vary from state to state. However, there is a standard data collection method.

BRFSS uses telephone interviews only. Data may not be representative of individuals without telephones (which is about 3% of the U.S. population). Starting in 2011, BRFSS implemented several modifications to its weighting methods and modes of data collection, including the addition of cellular telephone surveys. Additional information on these changes and potential implications are available here: Methodologic Changes in the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System in 2011 and Potential Effects on Prevalence Estimates.

The 2016 BRFSS data continues to reflect the changes initially made in 2011 in weighting methodology (raking) and the addition of cell phone only respondents.

Contact information for BRFSS state coordinators.

Sampling

Sample Design

Cross-sectional survey with probability sampling.

Learn more about the sampling design.

Sample Size

Approximately 432,600 records in 2009.

There are 486,303 records for 2016.

Special Note(s)

To provide adequate sample sizes for smaller geographically defined populations of interest, however, many states sample disproportionately from strata that correspond to sub-state regions. In 2016, the 48 states with geographic stratification were Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Puerto Rico, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, Wisconsin, and U.S. Virgin Islands.

Key Variables

Demographic

NameMethods of Assessment
Age of respondent and child in householdInterview/questionnaire
Disability (cognitive; equipment use; general; vision)Interview/questionnaire
Household incomeInterview/questionnaire
Marital status of respondentInterview/questionnaire
Number of children in householdInterview/questionnaire
Race/ethnicity of respondent and child in householdInterview/questionnaire
Sex of respondent and child in householdInterview/questionnaire

Diet-Related

NameMethods of Assessment
Cholesterol awarenessInterview/questionnaire
Food security statusInterview/questionnaire
Fruit and vegetable consumption (including juice, carrots, and salad) and number of servingsInterview/questionnaire
Sugar sweetened beverage consumption (select states)Interview/questionnaire

Physical Activity-Related

NameMethods of Assessment
Frequency of moderate- and vigorous-intensity physical activitySelf report
Occupational physical activitySelf report
Physical inactivity during leisure timeSelf report

Weight-Related

NameMethods of Assessment
Height, weight (used to calculate body mass index)Self report
Select obesity-related health conditionsInterview/questionnaire

Geocode/Linkage

NameMethods of Assessment
Public use: County, state, indicator of residence within or outside a metropolitan statistical area. Restricted access: zip codeN/A

Other

NameMethods of Assessment
Quality of lifeInterview/questionnaire

Special Note(s)

The BRFSS Sugar-Sweetened Beverage (SSB) Module, either included as an Optional Module
or as State-Added Questions, was introduced in 2011 to monitor consumption of SSBs at the state level.

Data Access and Cost

Data Availability

Obtain data online.

Cost

Free of charge.

Special Note(s)

The most recent year for which data are available is not necessarily the most recent year this survey was conducted. Please note that a statistical software program such as SAS or SUDAAN may be needed to analyze downloaded data.

Geocode/Linkage

Geocode Variable(s)

Public use: County, state, indicator of residence within or outside a metropolitan statistical area. Restricted access: zip code.

Existing Linkages

BRFSS data on fruit and vegetable consumption and physical activity have been linked to Nevada built environment data on land use mix, continuation of streets and sidewalks, safety, and the food environment (e.g., number and types of food retail outlets and availability of fruits and vegetables) using address. Learn more.

Selected Publications

Diet-Related

Grimm KA, Blanck HM, Scanlon KS, Moore LV, Grummer-Strawn LM, Foltz JL. State-specific trends in fruit and vegetable consumption among adults—United States, 2000–2009. Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report 2010;59(35):1125-1130.

Park S, Pan L, Sherry B, Blanck HM. Consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages among U.S. adults in 6 states: Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System, 2011. Prev Chronic Dis. 2014 Apr 24;11:E65.

Sullivan KM, Ford ES, Azrak MF, Mokdad AH. Multivitamin use in pregnant and nonpregnant women: Results from the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System. Public Health Reports 2009;124(3):384-390.

Tichenor N, Conrad Z. Inter- and independent effects of region and race/ethnicity on variety of fruit and vegetable consumption in the U.S.A.: 2011 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS). Public Health Nutr. 2015 Mar 6:1-10.

Physical Activity-Related

Carlson SA, Fulton JE, Galuska DA, Kruger J, Lobelo F, Loustalot FV. Prevalence of self-reported physically active adults—United States, 2007. Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report 2008;57(48):1297-1300.

Weight-Related

Bish CL, Chu SY, Shapiro-Mendoza CK, Blanck HM, Sharma AJ. Trying to lose or maintain weight during pregnancy—United States, 2003. Maternal & Child Health Journal 2008;13(2):286-292.

Henderson VR. Longitudinal associations between television viewing and body mass index among white and black girls. Journal of Adolescent Health 2007;41(6):544-550.

Krishna A, Razak F, Lebel A, Smith GD, Subramanian SV. Trends in group inequalities and interindividual inequalities in BMI in the United States, 1993-2012. Am J Clin Nutr. 2015 Mar;101(3):598-605.

Whetstone LM, Morrissey SL, Cummings DM. Children at risk: The association between perceived weight status and suicidal thoughts and attempts in middle school youth. Journal of School Health 2007;77(2):59-66.

Xie D, Raghunathan TE, Lepkowski JM. Estimation of the proportion of overweight individuals in small areas—a robust extension of the Fay-Herriot model. Statistics in Medicine 2007;26(13):2699-2715.

Methods

Fahimi M, Link M, Schwartz DA, Levy P, Mokdad A. Tracking chronic disease and risk behavior prevalence as survey participation declines: Statistics from the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System and other national surveys. Preventing Chronic Disease 2008;5(3):A80.

Resources

Data Query System

Data query systems also are available at various state BRFSS Web sites.

City and county level data for some areas are available online through SMART BRFSS.

Documentation/Codebook(s)

http://www.cdc.gov/brfss/data_documentation/pdf/userguidejune2013.pdf

Tools

Maps showing frequency of responses by state and metropolitan statistical area.

Web-enabled analysis tool.