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Welcome to the North Carolina BRFSS
Note: Following the links listed below will open a new browser window with the main web site for the survey. Just close that window to return to this list.
The National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) can be thought of as a national medical examination study, combining home health interviews with home health medical tests conducted in the Mobile Medical Examination Center. Data is collected on the diet, physical health, and diseases of people in the United States. The survey has been in existence since 1960, resulting from the 1956 National Health Survey Act, which authorized legislation for a continuous survey on the "amount, distribution, and effects of illness and disability in the United States". The home interview component of the NHANES consists of the Family Questionnaire and the Sample Person Questionnaire. Various items from either of these questionnaires are relevant to public health surveillance: "In the last 12 months, did you ever eat less than you felt you should because there wasn't enough money to buy food?" (Food Insecurity) or, "How soon after you wake up do you smoke? Would you say ... within 5 minutes, from 6 to 30 minutes, from more than 30 minutes to 1 hour, or more than 1 hour?" (Smoking and Tobacco Use). From time to time, the BRFSS Survey has borrowed questions from the NHANES.
The National Health Interview Survey (NHIS), like the NHANES, is part of the National Health Survey, and is probably the most well known of the national health surveys. The purpose of the NHIS is to obtain information about illness in the U.S. adult and child populations, disability prevalence and impact on quality of life, and the kind of health care services people receive. The NHIS is a cross-sectional household interview survey. Sampling and interviewing are continuous throughout each year. The NHIS sample, however, is too small to provide state-level data with acceptable precision for each state. Treatment of health topics such as chronic conditions, health status, or limitations of activity is more detailed and more comprehensive in the NHIS Adult Core than in the BRFSS Core sections. NHIS questions in the Adult Core also provide a detailed assessment of health care access and utilization, ranging from source of medical care to unmet health needs. This would be a valuable survey to explore for those interested in an expanded assessment of important public health issues, such as health status, disability, quality of life, or health care access. NHIS survey items are well designed, well tested, and have been used in many other surveys, including the BRFSS. The NHIS data collection process, however, departs from the BRFSS in two significant ways: interviews are conducted in-person and data are collected on all household members.
The Medical Expenditure Panel Survey (MEPS) was launched in March 1996. The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality conducts MEPS in conjunction with the National Center for Health Statistics. MEPS collects data on the specific health services that Americans use, how frequently the services are used, the cost of the services, and the methods of paying for services. MEPS also collects data on the scope of private and public health insurance held by and available to the U.S. population. The MEPS consists of 4 components: the Household Component, the Nursing Home Component, the Medical Provider Component, and the Insurance Component. The MEPS questions that would be most applicable to the BRFSS Survey come from the Household Component. The Household Component of MEPS consists of a sample of over 10,000 households taken from the prior year's National Health Interview Survey. The 42 separate sections (all available in PDF and html format) collect data on demographic characteristics, health conditions, health status, use of medical care services including specialty care, charges and payments, access to primary care, satisfaction with care, health insurance coverage, income, and employment.
The U.S. Census 2000 (long form) questions focus primarily on demographics, income and employment, transportation, education and housing characteristics applicable to all members of the household. This link is provided primarily as a reference for those interested in the types of questions asked on the U.S. Census 2000 long form, and for those who may be interested in the assessment of the U.S. 2000 Census special topics: disability and caregivers. One of the disability indices from the long form, defined as difficulty "learning, remembering, or concentrating," has been asked on the N.C. BRFSS since 1998. If you are one of our BRFSS-sponsor counties, the results from your county 2000 Census and the N.C. BRFSS could be compared to evaluate the reliability of this item.
The Current Population Survey (CPS) is the source of the official government statistics on employment and unemployment. The CPS has been conducted monthly for over 50 years. Currently, interviews are obtained from about 50,000 households each month. Each household is interviewed once a month for four consecutive months one year, and again for the corresponding time period a year later. The Tobacco Use Supplement to the Current Population Survey (TUS-CPS) is sponsored by the National Cancer Institute and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The tobacco supplement, administered as part of the U.S. Census Bureau's Current Population Survey since 1992, is a key source of national and state level data on smoking and other tobacco use in the U.S. household population. Researchers have used the TUS-CPS to monitor progress in the control of tobacco use, conduct tobacco-related research, and evaluate tobacco control programs. We point you to the TUS-CPS questionnaire because it is one of the nation's very best surveys on tobacco use. Here are some sample questions from the survey: "What is the total number of years you smoked EVERY DAY? Do not include any time you stayed off cigarettes for 6 months or longer." or "During the PAST 12 MONTHS, have you ever stopped smoking for one day or longer because you were TRYING to quit smoking?"
The State and Local Area Integrated Telephone Survey (SLAITS) is a fairly new research tool developed by the National Center for Health Statistics. Many of the questions included in the SLAITS questionnaire modules are taken from the National Health Interview Survey. SLAITS is designed to supplement current national data collection strategies by providing in-depth state and local area data to meet various program and policy needs. SLAITS also allows for relatively quick data collection strategies on various topics ranging from health insurance coverage to child well-being. The link above features access to the SLAITS directory of survey questionnaires, including the following:
Most of the surveys mentioned above are designed for households with infants or young children, which limits their value as a potential source of questions for the BRFSS. Nonetheless, they offer an excellent resource for building a parenting/child module that could be adapted to the BRFSS, or for use in conducting special surveys on parenting, children, and health.
The National Survey of Family Growth (NSFG) has been conducted 7 times by the National Center for Health Statistics: in 1973, 1976, 1982, 1988, 1995, 2002, & 2006. In each case, the survey was based on personal interviews conducted in the homes of a national sample. From 1973-1995, the sample was comprised of women 15-44 years of age in the civilian, non-institutionalized population of the United States. In 2002, the survey begam sampling both men and women, ages 15-44 years of age. The main purpose of the surveys is to provide reliable national data on marriage, divorce, sexual activity, contraception, infertility. The survey is detailed and long; numerous questions are devoted to a history of the living arrangements of the selected respondent and their biological relationships. With some digging, you will find some interesting questions that would be suitable for BRFSS subpopulations. For example, "Many people aren't sure, but still have some idea about the future. As you expect things to work out for you, what is the largest number of (additional) babies you and your husband expect to have?" or "Apart from testing that may have been done with your blood donations, have you ever had your blood tested for HIV, the virus that causes AIDS?" The 2006 NSFG is being conducted as a continuous survey, with interviews being done 48 weeks of every year. Each year of interviewing will be a nationally representative sample, and samples can be accumulated across years. Given the continuous nature of the survey, it is being done in about 33 areas (Primary Sampling Units) per year. By the end of 4 years of interviewing, it will be a national sample based on 108 areas.
The National Survey of America's Families (NSAF) was conducted by the Urban Institute, a nonpartisan economic and social policy research organization. The NSAF is a major survey focusing on the economic, health, and social characteristics of children, adults under the age of 65, and their families. The NSAF is particularly suited for the study of low-income families and their participation in state welfare programs. The purpose of the survey is to assess the New Federalism, i.e., the devolution of responsibility for social programs from the federal government to the states. The NSAF survey is representative of the noninstitutionalized, civilian population under age 65 in the nation as a whole and in each of the 13 focal states (unfortunately, North Carolina is not one of the over-sampled states). Over 40,000 households participated in the NSAF in 1997, 1999, & 2002, providing detailed information on more than 100,000 people. The questionnaire focuses primarily on health care, cash assistance and other income benefits, family structure, child care, child welfare, immigration, and long-term care. In particular, if you are looking for questions on adult and child welfare participation, this would be a good survey to start with. You will also find some interesting questions on child-rearing, such as, "A working mother can establish just as warm and secure a relationship with her children as a mother who does not work?" It would be possible to adapt some of the NSAF questions to the N.C. BRFSS, although it is not likely that county-level sample sizes (n ~ 400) would be large enough to yield reliable information on child family members.
The National Population Health Survey (NPHS) of Canada was launched in 1994 and is scheduled to continue every second year thereafter. The survey incorporates both cross-sectional and longitudinal data collection methods. The purpose of the survey is to improve the gathering of information on Canada's health care system, "during a time of economic and fiscal pressures on the health care system." The link above features access to the NPHS household component questionnaires from 1994-present. The survey is unusual to the degree that a large number of very different modules are covered with a minimum number of questions. The survey topics range from Preventive Health Practices (e.g., "Why did you have your last mammogram? ... Breast problem, Family history of breast cancer, Check-up, no particular problem, Other ___") to Self Esteem and Mastery (e.g., "In this question 1 means Strongly agree and 5 means Strongly Disagree: What happens to you in the future mostly depends on you."). This survey provides an excellent example of how to assess a topic with a few number of questions. It's worth exploring, given the cost and limited amount of space available for questions on the BRFSS.
This is Canada's first nationwide survey of children. Beginning in 1994, it gathered information on a sample of children and their life experiences. It will follow these children over time, collecting information on the children and their families, child education, health, development, behavior, friends, activities, etc. There are several modules in the Parent Questionnaire that may be of interest to our BRFSS users who wish to examine: (1) Family Functioning, or the (2) Neighborhood, or (3) Social Support. The Family Functioning items assess family communication, relationships, and behavior: for example, "Drinking is a source of tension or disagreement in our family." The Neighborhood items assess safety, interaction, and neighborhood problems. The Social Support items assess multiple supportive relationships.
The Joint Canada/United States Population Health Survey (JCUSH) was the first survey of its kind to be conducted simultaneously in two countries. The JCUSH was a collaborative product of Statistics Canada (Ottawa, Ontario) and the U.S. National Center for Health Statistics (Hyattsville, Maryland). The JCUSH collected exactly the same information in the same manner from both Canadian and U.S. residents. It began in 2002 and ended in 2003. Information was collected on a broad array of health topics including functional status, chronic conditions, disabilities, depression, restriction of activities, use of health care services, patient satisfaction, use of medications, and other lifestyle behaviors such as physical activities and smoking. In terms of sample size, Statistics Canada randomly selected about 3,500 Canadians ages 18 and older; the National Center for Health Statistics randomly selected about 5,200 Americans ages 18 and older. Like the BRFSS Survey, all interviews were conducted by telephone and one respondent was randomly selected from each household. In terms of special focus, the JCUSH provided a detailed assessment of depression, functional status (e.g., "Are you able to be understood completely when speaking with those who know you well?"), activity limitations, and disability (e.g., Would other people consider you to have a disability?). Given the uniqueness of this survey, we encourage viewers to peruse the JCUSH Questionnaire.
The Canadian Tobacco Use Monitoring Survey (CTUMS) is designed to provide Health Canada and its partners with continual and reliable data on tobacco use and related issues. Since 1999, two files have been released every year: a file with data collected from February to June (Cycle 1) and a file with the July to December (Cycle 2) data. The CTUMS meets Health Canada’s need for continuous coverage and rapid delivery of smoking data for the most at-risk populations: 15-24 year olds. The sample design is therefore tailored to increase the representation of individuals belonging to the 15-19 and 20-24 age groups. Interviews are conducted by telephone. The CTUMS is devoted almost entirely to cigarette smoking. Here you will find a very detailed assessment of smoking behaviors with an in-depth focus on the correlates of quitting smoking – the most comprehensive we have found to date. For example, here are three consecutive questions from the survey on quitting smoking: How many attempts to quit did you make, approximately, before you quit smoking for good?; On average, how many cigarettes were you smoking per day at the time you quit?; What methods have you ever used to try to quit smoking?
Page Last Updated March 20, 2012