The North Dakota BRFSS questionnaires are available for viewing or downloading in PDF format by clicking on the year in which you are interested.


The BRFSS questionnaire is designed by a working group of state coordinators and CDC staff. Currently, the questionnaire has three parts: 1) the core component: consisting of the fixed core, rotating core and emerging core, 2) optional modules and 3) state-added questions. All health departments must ask the core component questions without modification in wording; however, the modules are optional. Core questions are supported financially by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Optional modules or state-added questions included on the questionnaire are paid for by the requestor.


The fixed core is a standard set of questions asked by all states. It includes queries about current behaviors that affect health (e.g., tobacco use, women's health), certain health conditions and questions on demographic characteristics.


The rotating core is made up of two distinct sets of questions each asked in alternating years by all states and addressing different topics. In the years that rotating topics are not used in the core, they are supported as optional modules.


The emerging core is a set of up to five questions that are added to the fixed and rotating cores. Emerging core questions typically focus on issues of a "late breaking" nature and do not necessarily receive the same scrutiny that other questions receive before being added to the survey. These questions are part of the core for one year and are evaluated during or soon after the year concludes to determine their potential value in future surveys. The H1N1 vaccination questions and the flu-like illness questions on the BRFSS (fall 2009, spring 2010) are an example of emerging core questions.


Optional CDC modules are sets of questions on specific topics (e.g., smokeless tobacco) that states elect to use on their questionnaires. Although the modules are optional, CDC standards require that if the modules are used, they must be used without modification if they are to be analyzed by CDC and compared to the nation. Module topics have included survey items on oral health, cardiovascular disease, firearms and other topics. If optional modules are altered, they are considered state-added questions.


Individual states also have the option to add questions to their BRFSS questionnaires that are not currently part of the CDC core questionnaire or an available optional CDC module. Requests for inclusion of additional data items, whether state-added questions or optional modules, are reviewed and acted on by the state BRFSS program director in consultation with the state BRFSS Working Group and other entities as needed.


The BRFSS questionnaire goes through rigorous testing before its use. Federal agencies submit proposals to the Behavioral Sciences Branch (BSB) of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention with a clear rationale for the purpose of including questions in the core or optional module categories.

A national questionnaire review committee composed of a subgroup of state BRFSS coordinators reviews the proposals and makes recommendations to the submitting agencies for changes prior to the annual BRFSS conference where the final questionnaire changes are considered by all BRFSS coordinators and BSB staff.


Below is a general listing of topics in either the core or the state-added portions of the annual BRFSS surveys. Topics may vary somewhat from year to year.

  • Health status, including general, physical and mental health, as well as activity lost because of health conditions
  • Access to health care, as measured by having health insurance, being able to see a doctor because of cost, and time since last routine checkup
  • Awareness of selected medical conditions: hypertension, diabetes and high cholesterol
  • Nutrition and weight control, including eating of fruits and vegetables and experiencing hunger
  • Injury control, including use of seatbelts by respondents and children in their household
  • Tobacco use and alcohol consumption
  • Women's health concerns, including screening for breast and cervical cancer, pregnancy and prevalence of hysterectomy
  • Use of other preventive services, such as immunization for influenza and pneumonia, screening for colorectal cancer and testing for HIV infection
  • Knowledge, attitudes, beliefs and behaviors pertaining to a variety of public health issues, such as environmental health topics, chronic diseases and violence
  • Interpersonal violence, including abuse as a child and domestic violence
  • Social and demographic characteristics, including gender, age, race/ethnicity, sexual orientation, marital status, education attainment, employment, household income, weight and height


Research on telephone interview surveillance indicates that there is a time limit beyond which refusal rates increase (and therefore survey quality decreases). As a result, it is the goal of the North Dakota BRFSS to restrict the length of the average interview to 18 minutes, with a maximum of 23 minutes. To accomplish this, we will strive for an average questionnaire length of about 120 to 130 questions, with a 150-question maximum.


Now more than ever, public health decisions and policy should be driven by reliable and relevant health data. If your program needs information to assist with public health assessments, policy development, resource allocation and other decisions, the North Dakota BRFSS offers public health practitioners and partners the opportunity to collect health data about specific topics through an efficient and established survey system. CDC requires many of the questions that appear on the survey; however, a limited amount of space is available for states to fund additional questions at their discretion.

There are a number of criteria that need to be met in order to have questions added to the state section of the BRFSS survey. A written proposal must be submitted to the state BRFSS program director typically in July of the year preceding the survey. Discussion regarding which questions or modules will be included in the survey takes place shortly thereafter by members of the state BRFSS Working Group at a meeting in late July or early August. Final decisions are at the BRFSS program director’s discretion based upon survey integrity.

If your agency or organization is interested in adding a question (or questions) to the BRFSS survey, contact the BRFSS Program Director for more information. If you would like to view what other states have added to their questionnaires on various topics, please see the BRFSS State-Added Question Database, which indexes state-added questions used throughout the nation on a voluntary basis. Contributions to this database are made on a voluntary basis so it may not be a complete list of all the state-added questions used in other states.