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Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS)

Background


The Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS) is a continuous, random, telephone survey of a state population-based sample of civilian noninstitutionalized adults aged 18 years and older. The BRFSS is administered and supported by CDC's Behavioral Surveillance Branch. BRFSS aims to measure behavioral risk factors in the adult population. The goal of the BRFSS is to collect uniform, state specific data on preventive health practices and risk behaviors that are linked to chronic diseases, injuries, and preventable infectious diseases in the adult population.


The BRFSS questionnaire comprises core questions and optional modules. There are three types of core questions. Fixed core questions are asked every year. Rotating core questions are asked every other year. Emerging core questions typically focus on “late-breaking” health issues. The questions are evaluated at the end of a survey year to determine if they are valuable. If the coordinators decide to keep the questions, they are added to the fixed core, rotating core, or optional modules, whichever is most appropriate. All states must ask all core questions. The optional modules are standardized questions supported by the CDC that cover additional health topics or are more detailed questions on a health topic included in the core (e.g., vision module).


BRFSS and Vision/Eye Module


The first optional vision module was introduced in 2005 entitled “Vision Impairment and Access to Eye Care.” The vision module contains nine questions to assess prevalence of self-reported visual impairment, eye disease, eye injury, access to eye care, lack of eye care insurance, and eye examination among individuals aged 40 years and older.

  • Vision Module Question (PDF–66KB):
    • How much difficulty, if any, do you have in recognizing a friend across the street?
    • How much difficulty, if any, do you have reading print in newspaper, magazine, recipe, menu, or numbers on the telephone?
    • When was the last time you had your eyes examined by any doctor or eye care provider?
    • What is the main reason you have not visited an eye care professional in the past twelve months?
    • When was the last time you had an eye exam in which the pupils were dilated? This would have made you temporarily sensitive to bright light.
    • Do you have any kind of health insurance coverage for eye care?
    • Have you been told by an eye doctor or other health care professional that you NOW have cataracts?
    • Have you EVER been told by an eye doctor or other health care professional that you had glaucoma?
    • Have you EVER been told by an eye doctor or other health care professional that you had macular degeneration?
  •  

  • States using BRFSS Vision Module:

Number of States using module in the following years: 2005: 5; 2006: 9; 2007: 6; 2008: 12.
 

Relevant publications:


Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Visual impairment and eye care among older adults — five states, 2005. MMWR 2006;55:1321–1325.



 

 
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