Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System : 2018 summary data quality report
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    The Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS) is a state-based, CDC-assisted health-data collection project and partnership of state health departments, CDC’s Division of Population Health, and other CDC programs and offices. It comprises telephone surveys conducted by the health departments of all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and Guam.

    This Summary Data Quality Report presents detailed descriptions of the 2018 BRFSS calling outcomes and call summary information for each of the states and territories that participated. All BRFSS public-use data are collected by landline telephone and cellular telephone to produce a single data set aggregated from the 2018 BRFSS territorial- and state-level data sets. The variables and outcomes provided in this document are applicable to a combined data set of responses from participants using landline telephones and cellular telephones within each of the states and territories.

    The inclusion of data from cellular telephone interviews in the BRFSS public release data set has been standard protocol since 2011. In many respects, 2011 was a year of change—both in BRFSS’s approach and methodology. As the results of cellular telephone interviews were added in 2011, so were new weighting procedures that could accommodate the inclusion of new weighting variables. Data users should note that weighting procedures are likely to affect trend lines when comparing BRFSS data collected before and after 2011. Because of these changes, users are advised NOT to make direct comparisons with pre-2011 data, and instead, should begin new trend lines with that year. Details of changes beginning with the 2011 BRFSS are provided in the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR), which highlights weighting and coverage effects on trend lines.1 Since 2011, each yearly data set has included a larger percentage of calls from the cell phone sample. In 2018, a majority of the BRFSS interviews were conducted by cell phone. The annual codebooks provide information on the number and percentage of calls conducted by landline and cell phone by year.

    The measures presented in this document are designed to summarize the quality of the 2018 BRFSS survey data. Response rates, cooperation rates, and refusal rates for BRFSS are calculated using standards set by the American Association for Public Opinion Research (AAPOR).2 The BRFSS has calculated 2018 response rates using AAPOR Response Rate #4, which is in keeping with rates provided by BRFSS before 2011 using rates from the Council of American Survey Research Organizations (CASRO).3

    On the basis of the AAPOR guidelines, response rate calculations include assumptions of eligibility among potential respondents or households that are not interviewed. Changes in the geographic distribution of cellular telephone numbers by telephone companies and the portability of landline telephone numbers are likely to make it more difficult than in the past to determine which telephone numbers are out-of-sample and which telephone numbers represent likely households. The BRFSS calculates likely households and eligible persons using the proportions of eligible households/persons among all phone numbers where eligibility has been determined. This eligibility factor appears in calculations of response, cooperation, resolution, and refusal rates.


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