About Tennessee Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (TN BRFSS)



The Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS) is a state-based computer-assisted telephone interviewing effort conducted in cooperation with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Questions are constructed to determine the behaviors of individuals that will affect their risk of developing chronic diseases that may lead to premature mortality and morbidity. The data helps to identify high risk populations that can be targeted for intervention programs, and in turn assess the impact of any health promotion and prevention intervention programs. Currently, every state in the country, the District of Columbia, and three U.S. territories participate in the BRFSS. The Tennessee Department of Health has been participating in this system on a continuing basis since 1984, surveying adults from randomly selected households throughout the state.

Surveys are developed and conducted to monitor state-level prevalence of the major behavioral risks associated with premature morbidity and mortality among adults. Many of the behavioral risk factors surveyed in this system cannot be obtained from any other health statistics sources; the BRFSS serves as an important, timely, accurate, and often sole resource in measuring and monitoring the personal health behaviors and lifestyle conditions that are related to good or poor health outcomes or situations.

Although the BRFSS was originally designed to collect state-level data and make state-level inferences, a number of states have begun to stratify their samples to allow for prevalence estimates of behavioral risk factors for sub-regions. Tennessee began this process of stratifying data at the Grand Division level (East, Middle, and West Tennessee counties) in 2016.  To find out which questions were asked for a given year, please refer to the BRFSS Matrix .

The BRFSS went through a couple of methodological changes in 2011; therefore, data users should use caution when comparing any surveys from 2011 on to any previous surveys. Please see the following CDC website for more information on the change in methodology: Change in BRFSS Methodology

The TDH BRFSS team is happy to provide data and statistical expertise for any of your research or program needs. Please visit the data request system website  to submit a data request, or contact the BRFSS Coordinator.

Related BRFSS Links

Tennessee Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System (YRBSS) is a survey conducted by the Tennessee Department of Education which collects similar data to the BRFSS in a younger population (under 18 years of age).