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Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS)

The Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS) is a cross-sectional telephone survey of state residents aged 18 and older in households with telephones. BRFSS was initially developed in 1984 by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in collaboration with state health departments and is currently conducted in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and three United States territories.

The Oklahoma State Department of Health (OSDH) has participated in the BRFSS since 1988. Through BRFSS, information is collected in a routine, standardized manner at the state level on a variety of health behaviors and preventive health practices related to the leading causes of death and disability such as cardiovascular disease, cancer, diabetes, and injuries. BRFSS interviews are conducted monthly and data are analyzed annually for publication (on a calendar-year basis). Noneligible households are (1) vacation homes not occupied by household members for more than 30 days per year, (2) group homes, (3) institutions, (4) homes without a land line telephone, and (5) homes with no English or Spanish speakers.

There are three components to the BRFSS survey questionnaire: a standardized core component that must be asked by every state, the optional modules that may vary from state to state, and the state-added questions developed by individual states based on their consumer needs. The BRFSS core and optional modules were developed jointly by CDC’s Behavioral Surveillance Branch (BSB) and the states at the annual conference.

Most of the core questions are the same every year. The optional modules vary every alternate year. An example of optional modules chosen by Oklahoma in 2006 included adult asthma history, childhood asthma, diabetes, secondhand smoke policy, anxiety and depression. Examples of Oklahoma state-added questions in 2006 were Quitline, bicycle helmet, sexual assault and intimate partner violence.

Interviewing Protocol
The Health Care Information (HCI) Call Center conducts the Oklahoma BRFSS and randomly contacts residents six days a week, Monday-Friday, and half a day on Saturday. The center is equipped with computer-assisted telephone interviewing software (CATI) to ask the survey questions in a standardized manner. Continuous monitoring is in place to ensure a high quality data collection process.


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