If you visited the AARP Virgin Islands booth at the Agricultural Fair in February, you were given information about the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS) and the survey that is being done in the territory. The BRFSS is a project within the VI Department of Health’s Chronic Disease Prevention Program which is tasked with compiling health studies on various topics. The studies are completed using data received from Virgin Islands residents. The studies are very important to the territory as a whole. They are used for a variety of purposes including: 1) to help the Department of Health identify community health needs 2) to help apply for various health grants 3) to help policy makers make decisions based on the actual needs of the community and 4) to identify the types of health care personnel that the territory needs to recruit.
AARP-VI has joined forces with the Chronic Disease Prevention Program of the VI Department of Health to spread the good news about this survey.
The current survey will be conducted by telephone. And, in fact, according to the VI Department of Health’s web page, the BRFSS ‘is the nation’s premier system of health –related telephone surveys that collect state data about US residents regarding their health-related risk behaviors, chronic health conditions, and use of preventive services.’[i]
‘The BRFSS program was created in 1984 and originally consisted of information being collected from just 15 states. Today, the BRFSS collects information from all 50 states, the District of Columbia and three U.S. Territories.’[ii] With over 400,000 adult interviews each year, this program has become the largest continuously conducted health survey system in the world.’[iii]
When you are called for the survey, please agree to participate. Future funding to assist the VI in combating chronic diseases in the Territory like Diabetes, Cancer and Heart Disease are based on the information that you provide during the survey. Without your participation the study will not reflect on the true needs of the territory. Nor will the Department of Health have the information required to apply for grants, to implement programs to address these conditions. Additionally, there will be no local data for decision-makers in the territory to adequately appropriate funding to our local health department and non-profit organizations that collaborate to improve the quality of care in the community. All identifiers will be removed and the data aggregated so no one will be able to have the data for an individual.
Surveys are available in both English and Spanish and consist of three basic parts.
Part one is what is known as the “core.” It is a standard set of questions that are included in all questionnaires conducted by all states. The core includes queries about demographics, current health behaviors like whether you smoke or wear seatbelts. [iv]
Part two consists of questions which are considered optional groupings. These questions come from the Center for Disease Control (CDC) and are questions on a specific topic. An example of this type of specific questions might relate to whether you use smokeless tobacco, your oral health, cardiovascular disease, or your use of firearms for example.[v]
And finally, part three consists of questions that your state or territory has added to the survey.
As you can see, your input is essential. Your answers to this telephone survey will help the Territory in a number of ways but most importantly, it will help improve health services for you. When the BRFSS calls, please take the time to answer the survey!
The survey is being funded by CDC to collect health care and behavior information for the Territory.