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Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System

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SMART: BRFSS City and County Data

Selected Metropolitan/Micropolitan Area Risk Trends

A Brief History

Established in 1984 by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (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 many states, the BRFSS is the only available source of timely, accurate data on health-related behaviors.

Currently, data are collected monthly in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and Guam. More than 350,000 adults are interviewed each year, making the BRFSS the largest telephone health survey in the world. States use BRFSS data to identify emerging health problems, establish and track health objectives, and develop and evaluate public health policies and programs. Many states also use BRFSS data to support health-related legislative efforts.

The Evolution of the SMART Project

As the usefulness of the BRFSS has increased, so has the demand for local-level data. Although the BRFSS was designed to produce state-level estimates, growth in the number of respondents has made it possible to produce prevalence estimates for smaller areas and led to the Selected Metropolitan/Micropolitan Area Risk Trends (SMART) project.

This analysis of BRFSS data has yielded estimates for over 170 metropolitan (with at least one urbanized area of 50,000 or more inhabitants) and micropolitan (with at least one urban cluster of at least 10,000 but less than 50,000 inhabitants) statistical areas. Estimates were also calculated for those counties within these metropolitan and micropolitan statistical areas that had a large enough sample size in a given year.

With SMART, health officials now have access to local-level data that are comparable across the nation. These data show that the prevalence of certain behaviors may vary widely across metropolitan and micropolitan areas and counties. By filling a critical need for local area surveillance data, this new analysis of BRFSS data will help local health officials plan, implement, and evaluate their prevention efforts.

Go to SMART data

For more information on the BRFSS, see the About BRFSS page and BRFSS FAQ. For more information on SMART BRFSS, see the SMART FAQ.

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Page last reviewed: 07/07/2008
Page last updated: 07/07/2008

United States Department of Health and Human Services
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion
Division of Adult and Community Health