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National Healthcare Disparities Report, 2005

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Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS)


U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion (NCCDPHP).

Mode of Administration

Telephone interview. Interviews for 2003 were conducted through computer-assisted telephone interviewing (CATI).

Survey Sample Design

Data collection is conducted separately by each State. Sample design uses State-level, random-digit-dialed probability samples of the adult (aged 18 years and over) population. Most States currently use disproportionate random sampling methods. The BRFSS was initiated in 1984, with 15 States collecting surveillance data on risk behaviors through monthly telephone interviews. The number of States participating in the survey has increased. Since 2001, 50 States, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, Guam, and the Virgin Islands have participated in the BRFSS.

Primary Survey Content

The survey consists of a core of questions asked in all States, standardized optional questions on selected topics that are administered at the State's discretion, a rotating core of questions asked every other year in all States, and State-added questions developed to address State-specific needs. Questions cover behavioral risk factors (for example, alcohol and tobacco use), preventive health measures, HIV/AIDS, health status, limitation of activity, and health care access and utilization.

The objective of the BRFSS is to collect uniform, State-specific data on preventive health practices and risk behaviors that are linked to chronic diseases, injuries, and preventable infectious diseases in the adult population.

Population Targeted

U.S. civilian noninstitutionalized population 18 years of age and older who reside in households with telephones.

Demographic Data

Gender, age, educational attainment, race/ethnicity, household income, employment status, and marital status.

Years Collected

Since 1984.



Geographic Estimates

National; State; smaller area estimates possible in some States.

Contact Information

Agency homepage:

Data system homepage:


Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System User's Guide. Atlanta, GA: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 1998.

Go to for a collection of documents and survey data providing technical and statistical information regarding the BRFSS, such as comparability, sample information, etc.



The information on this page is archived and provided for reference purposes only.


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