The Chester County Health Department advises that the Pennsylvania Department of Health is currently conducting the 2006 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance Survey (BRFSS) by telephone and you may be called to participate. The BRFSS survey results provide valuable tools in measuring health trends, assessing chronic disease risk, and monitoring the effectiveness of policies, programs, and awareness campaigns. The information obtained from the data is used to guide health policy decisions, monitor progress toward achieving national year 2010 health objectives, propose and support legislation, develop public awareness strategies, and identify critical areas for future attention.

Nearly half of all deaths occurring annually are the result of modifiable behavioral risk factors. These risk factors include uncontrolled hypertension and diabetes, smoking, physical inactivity, poor diet, alcohol abuse, violence, and risky sexual behavior. It has been estimated that control of fewer than ten risk factors could prevent between 40 and 70 percent of all premature deaths, a third of all cases of acute disability, and two-thirds of all cases of chronic disability.

In an effort to measure and address these health issues, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) implemented the BRFSS in the mid-1980s with fifteen states. The BRFSS now includes all fifty states, three territories and the District of Columbia, comprising the largest ongoing telephone health survey in the world. The Pennsylvania Department of Health has been participating in the BRFSS since 1989.

County Health Director Doctor John P. Maher recommends that residents take a few minutes to answer questions about their health behaviors if they are called, as local residents' responses play an important role in any plans for improving health care services throughout the region. Questions regarding the BRFSS can be directed to Barbara Mancill, Public Health Information Systems Coordinator, at 610-344-6633.

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