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Technical Notes 2005

Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS)

Weighted BRFSS data are used in all calculations. BRFSS data are weighted for the probability of selection of a telephone number, the number of adults in a household, and the number of phones in a household and adjusted to reflect the demographic distribution of North Carolina's adult population (ages 18 and older).

Respondents who refused to answer or did not know the answer were excluded from any calculations in these tables. However, for a few questions "Don't know/Not sure" responses provide valuable information and were included in the calculations. The denominator for each calculation is the number of adults who responded to the item (exceptions are specified in the footnotes).

In each table, the results are displayed by sex, race, Hispanic origin, age groups, education levels, household income, disability status, veteran status, and counties and regions. However, when there are fewer than 3,500 statewide respondents for a question, the county-level results by demographics are suppressed. Moreover, if there are fewer than 500 statewide respondents, the state tables include only sex and race breakdowns and the county or regional tables include only the state estimates.

All questions from the survey are not presented in the following tables; however, the full questionnaire may be viewed online. Whenever possible, the exact wording for each question is used as a title, however due to space limitations, the titles may not include some introductory remarks and explanations for some questions. For more technical information about BRFSS, please visit national BRFSS web site.

Risk Factors and Calculated Variables Presented in the 2005 BRFSS Results

Body Mass Index Grouping

Body mass index (BMI) is computed as weight in kilograms divided by height in meters squared:(kg/ m2). BMI is an intermediate variable used in calculating these measures:
Underweight: BMI less than 18.5, Recommended Range: BMI 18.5 to 24.9, Overweight: BMI 25.0 to 29.9, Obese: BMI greater than 29.9. and Overweight or Obese: BMI greater than 24.9.

Smoking Status

Current Smoker (every day): Respondents who have smoked at least 100 cigarettes in their lifetime and now smoke every day.
Current Smoker (some days): Respondents who have smoked at least 100 cigarettes in their lifetime and now smoke some days.
Former Smoker: Respondents who have smoked at least 100 cigarettes in their lifetime and currently do not smoke.
Never Smoked: Respondents who have not smoked at least 100 cigarettes in their lifetime.

Current Smoker

Yes: Current Smoker (every day or some days)
No: Former Smoker or Never Smoked.

Worksites Prohibit Smoking in Both Public and Work Areas

Yes: Respondents whose work place prohibits smoking in any work or public areas.
No: Respondents whose work place does not prohibit smoking in any work or public areas.

Binge Drinking

No : Respondents who report they did not drink in the past 30 days and who did not have five or more drinks on an occasion.
Yes : Respondents who report they did drink in the past 30 days and had five or more drinks on one or more occasions in the past month.

Heavy Drinking

Yes: Respondents reported having MORE than 2 drinks/day for MALES and MORE than 1 drink/day for FEMALES.
No: Respondents reported having LESS than or equal to 2 drinks/day for MALES and LESS than or equal to 1 drink/day for FEMALES.

Disability Status

Yes: Respondents who report being limited due to physical, mental or emotional problems or using special equipment or having learning problems or considering himself or herself as having disability.
No: Respondents who do not report being limited due to physical, mental or emotional problems or using special equipment or having learning problems or considering himself or herself as having disability.

Currently Taking Multivitamins or Vitamin Pills/Supplements Containing Folic Acid

Yes: Respondents who report using multivitamin or folic acid containing vitamin pills/supplements.
No: Respondents who report using neither multivitamin nor folic acid containing vitamin pills/supplements.

Daily Consumption of Multivitamins or Vitamin Pills/Supplements Containing Folic Acid

Yes: Respondents who report using daily multivitamin or folic acid containing vitamin pills/supplements.
No: Respondents who report not using daily multivitamin or folic acid containing vitamin pills/supplements.

 

Strengths and Limitations of the BRFSS Survey Data

There are some significant advantages of the telephone survey methodology, including better quality control over data collection made possible by a computer-assisted-telephone-interviewing system, relatively low cost, and speed of data collection. The BRFSS methodology has been used and evaluated by the CDC and participating states since 1984. The content of the survey questions, questionnaire design, data collection procedures, interviewing techniques, and editing procedures have been carefully developed to improve data quality and lessen the potential for bias. The data collection is ongoing, and each year new annual results become available.

One limitation of a telephone survey is the lack of coverage of persons who live in households without a telephone. Households without a telephone are, on average, of lower income. Therefore, for many of the health risks measured, the results are likely to understate the true level of risk in the total population of adults in North Carolina. Since approximately 95 percent of households in North Carolina do have at least one telephone, the degree of understatement is probably not large.

Additionally, the widespread use of cellular phones has also impacted the BRFSS telephone survey. As more North Carolinians abandon landline phones and become "cell phone only" households, the BRFSS is devising plans to address this change. In 2009, the North Carolina BRFSS survey is participating in a cell phone experiment to determine the feasibility of adding cell phone-based interviews to the survey.

A second limitation is due to the fact that the data are self-reported by the respondents. We expect that respondents tend to underreport health risk behaviors, especially those that are illegal or socially unacceptable.

 

Return to 2005 BRFSS Annual Results Table of Contents