Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS) - Minnesota Department of Health

Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS)

The Minnesota BRFSS, started in 1984, is a large-scale telephone survey conducted on a monthly basis throughout the year. The BRFSS covers many topics, including smoking, overweight/obesity, physical activity, fruit and vegetable consumption, chronic disease prevalence, and access to health care.

The BRFSS survey is supported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and is conducted in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and three U.S. territories (Guam, Puerto Rico, and U.S. Virgin Islands). MDH provides data to CDC monthly.

For more information about the national BRFSS program, visit the CDC:


Frequently asked questions about BRFSS

What is the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS)?

The Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS) survey is a group effort between the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The survey collects current health and health-related behavior information that is used to improve the health of Minnesotans.

If you have been called to participate in the survey, MDH strongly encourages you to participate. Survey participation is voluntary; however, we cannot select anyone else to replace you if you were selected and do not participate, which may mean that adults like you are underrepresented in statewide estimates. 

By participating, you perform a valuable public service for your family, community, and state.

How do I know that the phone call isn’t a scam?

MDH works with the survey company Abt SRBI to do the survey. The phone call you receive should be coming from either 651-201-4982 or the toll-free number 877-551-6138. You can also ask for a supervisor who will identify themselves as being from the company Abt SRBI.

If neither of these items are true, please contact the MDH Center for Public Health Practice at 651-201-3880 so we can investigate..

Please keep in mind that MDH runs various surveys throughout the year and the above information only applies to the BRFSS survey.

Why do MDH and CDC conduct the survey?

The information that the survey gathers helps MDH improve the health of Minnesotans.

For example, information from the survey provides data about chronic conditions, like heart disease and diabetes, to identify what prevention efforts are working and next steps for improving the health of Minnesotans.

Who is on the call list?

Your phone number was randomly selected from all working phone numbers, both listed and unlisted, in your area. Even if you have taken your name off telemarketing lists or belong to various other no-call lists, you may still be contacted. Survey work sponsored by the government is exempted from do-not-call lists.

The survey only collects information from adults ages 18 and over.

MDH uses random sampling to call numbers associated with Minnesota addresses. Random sampling is a way  to select individuals from a population so that everyone in the group has the same chance of being selected.

Why do I keep getting called?

To get the best survey results, we work hard to get a response from each person selected. In general, individuals are called several times to ensure they had an opportunity to take the survey at a convenient time.

If the number we contacted you at is a landline, which is often a household phone, you may be contacted several times. In the case that a selection for an individual has not been made and there are multiple adults residing in the household, the answering adult will become the selected individual. Once we’ve completed that step we will keep trying to reach the selected individual.

If we contacted you at a cell phone, which is considered a personal device, you will be invited to participate in the survey if you live in Minnesota and use the phone for personal use.

If when you are called you say, “This is not a good time for me,” you will be contacted again in hopes we can reach you at a more convenient time.

We are persistent with this survey, because we cannot select anyone else to replace you if you were selected and do not participate. That could mean adults like you will not be accurately represented in Minnesota’s health data.

How do I get off the call list?

To permanently remove your number from the BRFSS call list, contact Nagi Salem, MDH BRFSS director, at 651-201-5996.


Notice of Contract Opportunity: posted October 8, 2018

The Minnesota Department of Health is requesting proposals for the purpose of the administration of the Minnesota Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS) telephone survey. The anticipated two-year contract is January 1, 2019 through December 31, 2020. The initial work will be the preparation, planning and execution of the 2019 MN BRFSS according to standardized protocol developed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The contract will cover two years of annual January 1 through December 31 data collection, with the option to extend the contract for another year for a total of three (3) years with satisfactory performance.

To get a copy of the RFP, please send a written request by email to

Minnesota Department of Health personnel are NOT allowed to discuss the request for proposals with anyone, including responders, before the proposal submission deadline.

Prospective responders who have any questions regarding this RFP should submit questions via email to The deadline for submission of questions is Monday, October 15, 2018.

View responses: Responses to questions submitted under RFP: Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (PDF)