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Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System

The Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS) is a random-digit dial telephone survey of adults age 18 and older.  This survey, done together with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, monitors health behaviors and risk factors in all 50 states on a continuous basis.  The survey is done on a calendar year basis.  It is the largest continuously conducted health survey of its kind, and provides information that is not available from other sources.  The information about health risks, many of which are behavioral in nature, play an important role in developing public policy and monitoring achievement of public health goals.

The questionnaire covers such health topics as general health, mammography, diabetes, heart disease, overweight/obesity, smoking and health care coverage.  The number of residents surveyed has increased in recent years. This allows for estimates of health behaviors on a county or regional basis, which has helped health professionals in those areas target risk factors that affect their residents.

The BRFSS report does not report the actual number of people with specific health behaviors or risk factors; rather it provides an estimated prevalence of adults with those specific behaviors or risk factors.  These estimates are the results of a weighting process applied to the number of respondents and their answers.

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