The Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS) is made possible through cooperative agreements between each state or territory and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The BRFSS serves as the primary source of state-based information on health risk behaviors of the non-institutionalized adult population (18 years of age or older).
Since 1984, BRFSS has gathered information from U.S. adults about a wide range of behaviors that affect their health. The primary focus of these surveys is on behaviors that are linked with the leading causes of death - heart disease, cancer, stroke, diabetes, and injury – as well as other important health issues.
In addition to information on health status and behavioral risks, information on a variety of demographic factors is gathered to obtain prevalence estimates for specific population sub-groups. Thus, interventions can be directed to people at the greatest risk. Visit the FAQ – Data Users section of this site to learn more about the survey instruments used in BRFSS.
The information collected is used to improve health care for citizens on a national and statewide basis. More specifically, BRFSS data are used to:
- Identify demographic differences and trends in health-related behaviors
- Monitor the effectiveness of health intervention and services
- Address critical and emerging health issues
- Educate the public, health practitioners, and policy makers about health risk behaviors and conditions through data dissemination
- Assist in the development of policy and public health initiatives
Measure progress toward achieving state and national health objectives
Important Notification for Survey Years 2011 and Beyond
Starting in 2011 BRFSS estimates can no longer be directly compared to estimates from previous years, causing a break in the trend line. All years going forward from 2011 can be compared to one another. New methodological changes of adding cell phone sampling and using a larger number of socio-demographics to weight the data greatly improves the accuracy, coverage, validity, and representativeness of BRFSS data, however it prevents comparisons to data using the prior survey methodology. For more information on these changes, please visit the CDC website.