The Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System questionnaire: its reliability in a statewide sample

Am J Public Health. 1993 Dec;83(12):1768-72. doi: 10.2105/ajph.83.12.1768.


The reliability of the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System questionnaire was assessed in a random sample of adults (n = 122) and a separate sample of Black and Hispanic adults (n = 200) in Massachusetts. The questionnaire was administered twice, 21 to 44 days apart, by telephone (210 completed reinterviews, 65% response rate for second administration). There were no statistically significant differences in the distribution of demographic or risk factor variables across administrations. Individual-level reliability (kappa for categorical variables, correlation for continuous variables) for demographic characteristics was more than 0.80 for White respondents and more than 0.60 for Black and Hispanic respondents. Employment and income were reported less consistently than other variables. Reliability coefficients for behavioral risk factors were generally above 0.70. Exceptions were variables with extreme distributions. These data support the use of the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System questionnaire for surveillance and research.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Black or African American / statistics & numerical data*
  • Female
  • Health Behavior* / ethnology
  • Health Status Indicators*
  • Hispanic or Latino / statistics & numerical data*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Massachusetts
  • Middle Aged
  • Population Surveillance / methods*
  • Prevalence
  • Random Allocation
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Risk Factors
  • Sampling Studies
  • Surveys and Questionnaires / standards*
  • White People / statistics & numerical data*