Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System Survey: Now in Stata and CSV formats

The BRFSS Annual Survey is now available in Stata DTA and Excel-friendly CSV formats at my Open Science Foundation page.

The US government is great at collecting data, but not so good at sharing it in easy-to-use ways. When people try to access these datasets they either get discouraged and give up, or spend hours getting the data into a usable form. One of the crazy things about this is all the duplicated effort- hundreds of people might end up spending hours cleaning the data in mostly the same way. Ideally the government would just post a better version of the data on their official page. But barring that, researchers and other “data heroes” can provide a huge public service by publicly posting datasets that they have already cleaned up- and some have done so.

That’s what I said in December when I added a data page to my website that highlights some of these “most improved datasets”. Now I’m adding the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance Survey. The BRFSS has been collected by the Centers for Disease Control since the 1980s. It now surveys 400,000 Americans each year on health-related topics including alcohol and drug use, health status, chronic disease, health care use, height and weight, diet, and exercise, along with demographics and geography. It’s a great survey that is underused because the CDC only offers it in XPT and ASC formats. So I offer it in Stata DTA and Excel CSV formats here.

Let me know what dataset you’d like to see improved next.