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Iowa Department of Health and Human Services

Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS)


History of BRFSS

The Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS) is a federally funded randomized telephone survey of Iowa residents ages 18 and older. The questions collect data related to a variety of health behaviors, conditions, and preventative health practices. All 50 states, the District of Columbia and three U.S. territories conduct the survey in partnership with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The Iowa BRFSS is an important tool for data-driven decision making in the public health community.

In 1981, the CDC began assisting states in conducting risk factor surveys. One year later, a point-in-time survey was first conducted in Iowa. In 1988, Iowa began fully participating in CDC's Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System.

How BRFSS Works

Each year, the CDC provides states with a standard questionnaire, and states can choose to tailor their surveys by adding in optional question modules or additional state-added content. The CDC also provides technical assistance and a detailed survey protocol so that standardized data comparisons can be made across the nation.

The Iowa BRFSS asks questions about different health behaviors to adults aged 18 and older using telephone interviews. Each month a random sample of telephone numbers are contacted to participate in the survey over the phone. Questions in the survey cover many topics, including nutrition, physical activity, tobacco use, hypertension, blood cholesterol, alcohol use, and access to health care.

How BRFSS Data is Used

Iowa BRFSS survey data is used to design, implement, and support public health activities with the goal of reducing chronic diseases and other leading causes of death for Iowans. The survey is conducted every year, which allows for health trends to be compared over time.

BRFSS data is also used to measure the progress made towards the state’s Healthy Iowans: Health Improvement Plan and the national Healthy People 2030 Objectives. These plans aim to improve the health of Iowa and the nation.

Latest Data Publications and Resources





Data by County

Select BRFSS data, organized by each of the 99 Iowa counties, is provided below. State rates and rates grouped by the state's six regional community health consultant region assignments are also provided for comparison.

Topics include: alcohol consumption, tobacco use, gambling, chronic health indicators, disability status, depression, physical activity, overweight/obesity, immunization, health status, days of poor health and healthcare access/coverage.

Please note: Iowa BRFSS county data is grouped together by 4-year time increments. Combining multiple years increases the sample size per county (and region) for the reported prevalence rates. Having a larger sample size increases the reliability of the data, allowing for better estimation. Smaller counties may not contain enough data to report reliable estimates, even with the combination of 4 consecutive years. In this case, regional prevalence rates may be of particular use, at a sub-state level. In the files provided, the bolded estimates represent weighted data, which means that these estimates are representative of the state, region or county. The non-bolded estimates represent only the responses of the BRFSS respondents in the aggregate years specified for counties.

If you would like to request additional Iowa BRFSS data, please fill out this BRFSS data request form


Iowa BRFSS Annual Reports

Additional Iowa BRFSS Information

National BRFSS Information

Contact Information

For questions or more information, please reach out to or call (515) 322-3213.