About BRFSS

The Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS) is a telephone health survey system in the United States. It is the world's largest on-going telephone survey and it tracks health conditions and risk behaviors. The survey was developed to identify personal health behaviors and monitor state-level prevalence of major behavioral risks associated with different health conditions in adults. Originally set up in 1984 by The Centers for Disease Control (CDC),  it is the primary source for measures of population health in the United States. It is conducted in all 50 states, Washington D.C, Puerto Rico, Guam and the U.S Virgin Islands.

The BRFSS questionnaire is comprised of core questions and optional modules. The core questions have to be asked by every state and are either fixed (asked each year), rotating (asked every other year), or emerging (on breaking health issues). Additionally, there are state-added optional modules, which are discretionary to each state. The optional modules are standardized questions supported by the CDC. These modules are designed to get a gauge on public health policies and issues on the public health radar in each state.

Family History and Genomics questions are part of the optional state-added modules within BRFSS. States use BRFSS data to identify emerging health issues, determine the population prevalence of health conditions, track health objectives,and evaluate public health programs and policies.

For more information on how to use data generated by BRFSS, view our genomic applications video 'Using BRFSS in Public Health Practice'.

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