Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS) Data

Find health behavior data in Massachusetts. This dataset provides selected data from the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS), an annual telephone survey that collects data on emerging public health issues, health conditions, risk factors and behaviors.

About the Data

These data can provide estimates of the prevalence of the adult population reporting each outcome. Estimates are available overall and by sex, age group, race/ethnicity and educational attainment which can be used to identify health disparities.

Image that shows the various forms of oppression that impact the various types of social determinants of health, that then impact health outcomes.


As you look at data on this webpage, you may see differences among population groups. The differences are especially noticeable between white people and people of color.

These differences exist because of structural racism. These differences are NOT because of an individual’s choices, behaviors, or identity.

Systems of oppression, such as racism, cause harm to everyone. They also influence the social determinants of health (SDoH), which impact health outcomes. See Figure 1.

It is important to keep these notes in mind when looking at the data and using it to inform public health efforts.

If you decide to share these data, remember to use racial equity context and framing. The DPH Racial Equity Data Road Map is one resource that can help.

About the BRFSS

BRFSS is a telephone survey conducted among adults 18 years of age and older, living in a private residence or college housing, and able to complete the survey in English, Spanish or Portuguese.

Data Limitations

All data collected by the BRFSS are based on self-report from the respondents.  By its nature, self-reported data may be subject to error for several reasons.

An individual may have difficulty remembering events that occurred a long time ago or the frequency of certain behaviors. Some respondents may overreport socially desirable behaviors, while underreporting behaviors they perceive to be less acceptable.

Finally, because the BRFSS surveys a randomly selected sample of Massachusetts adults, these results may differ from another random sample to some extent simply due to chance.

Additionally, persons with the most severe limitations and with certain disabilities are not represented in this sample since individuals living in institutions are not included in the BRFSS.  

BRFSS methodology also precludes anyone from assisting respondents in completing the interview if the selected adult had difficulty in participating for any reason, such as an intellectual or developmental disability.

Continue Exploring PHIT Data

Additional Resources

Contact   for Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS) Data


Population Health Information Tool Information Email Population Health Information Tool (PHIT) at


250 Washington Street, Boston, MA 02108


Sai Cherala, MD, MPH, Assistant Commissioner and Director, Office of Population Health Email Office of Population Health at


(617) 624-5631


250 Washington St., 6th Floor, Boston, MA 02108

As a publicly available tool, we highly encourage the use of data included in PHIT. Below is an example of how you can cite this webpage to reference any information you find helpful.

[Insert Title of Webpage Here] (n.d.). Population Health Information Tool, Massachusetts Department of Public Health. [Insert URL]

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