The Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS) is the world’s largest, on-going telephone health survey system, tracking health conditions and risk behaviors in the United States yearly. It was established in 1984 by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). BRFSS is a state-based system of health surveys that collects information on health risk behaviors, preventive health practices, and health care access primarily related to chronic disease and injury.
For Alabama, the BRFSS is the only available source of timely, accurate data on health-related behaviors. BRFSS provides state-specific information about issues such as asthma, diabetes, health care access, alcohol use, hypertension, obesity, cancer screening, nutrition and physical activity, tobacco use, and more. Federal, state, and local health officials and researchers use this information to track health risks, identify emerging problems, prevent disease, and improve treatment.
The CDC developed a standard core questionnaire for states to use so data could be compared against other states. Although the BRFSS was designed to collect state-level data, Alabama began to stratify their sample in 2007 which allows for estimates of prevalence for health areas. Data is updated every spring and is available through 2010.
Alabama data is stratified on the 11 public health areas, as designated by ADPH. The basic philosophy is to collect data on actual behaviors, rather than on attitudes or knowledge, that would be especially useful for planning, initiating, supporting, and evaluating health promotion and disease prevention programs.