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August 26, 2013

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Health Department Makes Participation More Convenient

(Richmond, Va.) The Virginia Department of Health (VDH) is introducing a web-based Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance Survey (BRFSS), designed to encourage greater participation in the survey, particularly among underrepresented groups. VDH administers the BRFSS to gather vital health information and monitor critical health indicators. Traditionally, the survey is conducted by telephone. Beginning this month, households that do not respond to the phone survey will receive a postcard in the mail with instructions for completing the survey online.

"We understand that people are busier than ever, and participating in a telephone survey may not be convenient for everyone," said State Health Commissioner Cynthia C. Romero, MD, FAAFP. "Because the survey is vitally important for improving health at the community level, we want to make it easier for Virginians to participate and help make a difference."

The BRFSS is the primary source of state-specific surveillance information related to health risk behaviors, chronic health conditions and use of preventive services among Virginians. VDH is responsible for collecting survey information to provide to local health districts. Results of the BRFSS support health programs and policies at the community level with the overall goal of reducing the burden of chronic diseases and increasing years of healthy life.

More than 2.8 million adults currently live with a key chronic disease in Virginia. Key chronic diseases include arthritis, asthma, heart attack, stroke, cancer, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, coronary heart disease/angina and diabetes. Although the risk of developing a chronic disease varies with age and gender, many common chronic diseases can be prevented or managed through behavioral changes, such as adopting a healthy diet. "In 2011, 41 percent of Virginians reported eating less than one combined serving of fruits and vegetables per day," said Acting Director of the Office of Family Health Services Lauri Kalanges, MD, MPH. "Data from the BRFSS provide insight to the population's nutrition habits and enables us to explore novel ways of helping individuals make better food choices as part of a healthy lifestyle."

VDH encourages those contacted about the BRFSS to set aside some time to complete the survey at their earliest convenience. It takes about 20 minutes to complete the web-based survey. By participating, people directly influence the health of their communities.

VDH has conducted the survey on a monthly basis by phone since 1989. Similar surveys take place in all 50 states and the U.S. territories. The BRFSS is one of the largest random-digit-dialing surveys nationwide. Copies of the BRFSS questionnaire and maps can be viewed at or by contacting the BRFSS Coordinator, Danielle Henderson, by phone at (804) 864-7649 or email at

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Last Updated: 08-26-2013

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