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Frequently Asked Questions

For the Public

I received a call from the Ohio Department of Health. How do I know this is not a phone scam?

The Ohio Department of Health works with the survey company Abt Associates to conducts the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System every month of the year. The phone call you received should be from 614-432-8854. If you have additional concerns about the legitimacy of the survey or have been contacted by a different phone number, please contact the Ohio BRFSS Coordinator, Justina Sleesman (justina.sleesman@odh.ohio.gov, 614-466-7774). 

What is the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS)?

The Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS) is the world's largest random-digit dial telephone survey. Data are collected in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands and Guam. 

What type of information is collected? How often is it collected?

The BRFSS is the primary source of health information among Ohio residents 18 years and older, including data related to chronic diseases, obesity, physical activity, nutrition, alcohol use, oral health, injuries, cancer screenings and access to health care, among many other measures. 

How are BRFSS data used?

The collection of the survey allows the Ohio Department of Health, local health departments and other public health stakeholders to monitor health trends in the state and develop and evaluate public health programs and policies designed to improve the health of Ohio residents. 

My phone number is on the Do Not Call Register. Why am I still receiving calls?

The phone numbers are selected randomly from all working phone numbers, both listed and unlisted. Even though you are on the Do Not Call Register, you may still be contacted. Survey work sponsored by the government is exempted from the Do Not Call Register.

Who should I contact for additional questions?

All questions should be directed to the Ohio BRFSS Coordinator, Justina Sleesman (justina.sleesman@odh.ohio.gov, 614-466-7774).

For Stakeholders

How do I access the Ohio BRFSS data for my own analysis?

Data, questionnaire layouts and codebooks are housed in the Ohio Public Health Information Warehouse. A Data User Agreement must be completed and sent to Justina Sleesman (justina.sleesman@odh.ohio.gov) to set up an account. 

Where can I find what modules and questions were asked each year?

The questionnaires for each year are available on the BRFSS Tools & Resources page.

What methodology changes have been made to BRFSS?

Methodological changes were made starting with the 2011 BRFSS to keep the data accurate and representative of the population. The first change was to incorporate cell phones in the sample and the second change was to replace the post-stratification weighting method with a more advanced method called iterative proportional fitting or raking. 

How are modules selected for inclusion on the questionnaire?

Each fall, the Ohio BRFSS Program will request proposals from our data user’s group. The proposals are then voted on by both the data user’s group and the State Health Improvement Plan (SHIP) advisory committee for inclusion in the following year’s survey. If you are interested in becoming part of the data user’s group, please contact Justina Sleesman (justina.sleesman@odh.ohio.gov, 614-466-7774). 

Who should I contact for additional questions?

All questions should be directed to the Ohio BRFSS Coordinator, Justina Sleesman (justina.sleesman@odh.ohio.gov, 614-466-7774).