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Alaska's Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System

Program Overview

The lifestyle choices we make on a daily basis play a vital role in shaping our health status and lifespan. While heredity and environment play a part, the leading causes of death in Alaska (heart disease, cancer, unintentional injuries) are closely related to behaviors and lifestyle factors such as diet, exercise, tobacco and alcohol use, as well as preventive health practices. Changes in lifestyle could prevent diseases as well as premature deaths.

The Alaska Department of Health and Social Services first implemented the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS) in 1991. Working with the National Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), this survey gathers information about the health related lifestyle choices of Alaskan adults. With this knowledge, we can better plan and evaluate health promotion programs to prevent chronic disease and premature death. Today, the BRFSS is implemented in all 50 states and some territories as part of an ongoing data collection system. Each year, results are analyzed to improve our understanding of health habits and measure progress towards health objectives at the state and national level.

New for 2011

With the reporting of 2011 BRFSS data, the CDC has officially introduced a new method of sampling (to include cell phone as well as landline phone numbers) and a new weighting methodology referred to as “raking”. These changes improve the overall representativeness of the BRFSS data. However, in addition to possibly affecting the results, these changes in methods mean changes in the way we use the data. For example, we may not be able to review behavior changes across all years of collected data. Trend analyses will eventually focus on years of data that include both landline and cell phone respondents, and which are weighted using raking methodology. These new methods are necessary to provide a more accurate reflection of the health behaviors and conditions measured in the BRFSS survey.


BRFSS Questionnaires


Related Links

For more information contact the BRFSS Coordinator surveylab@alaska.gov