Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System

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Introduction

Approximately 70% of all deaths in the United States are due to chronic health conditions. A majority of these chronic health conditions are due to behaviors of individuals that can be improved. Sustainable improvement in health outcomes for the majority of the population requires improvement in healthy behaviors. Efforts to improve the community's health depend of the measurement of outcomes and behaviors in order to develop strategies for intervention at the community level.

Health outcomes can be measured by reviewing medical and vital records, such as birth certificates and death certificates. Measuring the behaviors that have such a profound impact on health requires either observing what people do or asking them what they do. The BRFSS is the primary source of data for local entities, states, and the nation on the health-related behaviors of adults. States collect data through monthly telephone interviews with non-institutionalized adults aged 18 years or older. BRFSS interviewers call both landlines and cell phones and ask respondents questions related to behaviors that are associated with preventable chronic diseases, injuries, and infectious diseases.

Lancaster County BRFSS

The Lancaster County Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS) has been conducting surveys annually since 1989 for the purpose of collecting data on the prevalence of major health risk factors among adults residing in Lancaster County. Information gathered in these surveys can be used to target health education and risk reduction activities throughout the county in order to lower rates of premature death and disability.

The surveillance system is based on a research design developed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and used in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and three U.S. territories. Questions are standardized to ensure comparability of data with other states and to allow determination of trends over time.

See the Data Indicators