Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS)

Topic/focus: Behavior
Year(s):1984 – 2010
Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Study and sample characteristics: Survey data of varying size depending on year of survey (451075 observations in 2010)
Universe: Non-institutionalized, civilian adults aged 18+
Variables: Varies (397 in 2010)
Access: Publically available, interactive analysis available online, restricted data also available
Cost: Free to download
Key web links: CDC: Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System
Primary Institutional Contact: EDRC Coordinator (

Description: The BRFSS is an ongoing national data collection program designed to measure behavioral risk factors in the adult, non-institutionalized, civilian population. The BRFSS was initiated in 1984 when 15 states collected data on risk behaviors through telephone interviews. The number of states participating in the survey has increased so that by 1994, 50 states, the District of Columbia, and three territories were included in the BRFSS. The objective of the BRFSS is to use uniform procedures to collect state-specific data on preventive health practices and risk behaviors associated with chronic diseases, injuries, and preventive infectious diseases. Factors assessed include seat belt use, tobacco use, physical activity, diet, and use of cancer screening services. Data are collected from a random sample of adults through monthly telephone surveys.