Reliability and validity of measures from the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS)

Soz Praventivmed. 2001;46 Suppl 1:S3-42.


Objectives: To assess the reliability and validity of measures on the BRFSS, to assist users in evaluating the quality of BRFSS data, and to identify areas for further research.

Methods: Review and summary of reliability and validity studies of measures on the BRFSS and studies of measures that were the same or similar to those on the BRFSS from other surveys.

Results: Measures determined to be of high reliability and high validity were current smoker, blood pressure screening, height, weight, and BMI, and several demographic characteristics. Measures of both moderate reliability and validity included when last mammography was received, clinical breast exam, sedentary lifestyle, intense leisure-time physical activity, and fruit and vegetable consumption. Few measures were of low validity and only one measure was determined to be of low reliability. Several other measures were of high or moderate reliability or validity, but not both. The reliability or validity could not be determined for some measures, primarily due to lack of research.

Conclusions: Most questions on the core BRFSS instrument were at least moderately reliable and valid, and many were highly reliable and valid. Additional research is needed for some measures.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Female
  • Health Behavior*
  • Health Services Accessibility / statistics & numerical data*
  • Health Status Indicators*
  • Health Surveys*
  • Humans
  • Life Style
  • Male
  • Population Surveillance*
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Risk Factors
  • United States