The Texas Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS), initiated in 1987, is a federally supported telephone survey conducted on a monthly basis of randomly selected adult Texans to collect data on lifestyle risk factors contributing to the leading causes of death and chronic diseases. As a primary source for comprehensive statewide data on preventive health practices and health risk behaviors, BRFSS is an important tool for decision-making throughout DSHS and the public health community. Public and private health authorities at the federal, state, and local levels rely on BRFSS to identify public health problems, design policies and interventions, set goals, and measure progress toward those goals.
This surveillance can be used to monitor the Year 2020 Objectives for smoking, overweight, high blood pressure, exercise, flu/pneumonia vaccination, cholesterol, seat belt use, fruit/vegetable consumption, and other risk factors so that intervention priorities can be established and the long-term impact of health promotion programs can be monitored. BRFSS is used nationwide under the direction of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) so that survey methods and much of the questionnaire are standardized across all 50 states, three territories, and the District of Columbia. As a result, comparisons can be made to other states and the national average.
CDC provides a core questionnaire that the states may choose to supplement with optional modules and state-added questions. The monthly files go through extensive edits and are compiled into an annual file shortly after the end of the calendar year. Prevalence estimates of risk factors, health indicators, and preventive health practices can be obtained using the BRFSS query system.
On occasion, the Center for Health Statistics at the DSHS works with the Texas public health community to oversample their community in the BRFSS or administer and facilitate special interest, point-in-time health surveys. The primary focus of this effort in recent years has been to acquire data for evaluation and decision-making at the local level. Data from BRFSS oversamples can be obtained using the BRFSS oversamples query system.