Protecting the confidentiality of respondents is a fundamental principle in the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System. Respondents have a legitimate concern regarding their anonymity and the proper secrecy associated with their responses.
To ensure confidentiality, no respondent identifiers are retained in the interview records. Respondents are not asked for their names or other obvious identifiers. Even the last two digits of the telephone number are eliminated from the final data to insure that responses cannot be connected to a specific person. Information is further protected because the data are combined and reports cite only aggregate figures (e.g., 10% of the population had a household income of less than $10,000).
Although discussion of respondent information among BRFSS staff occurs as a necessary part of the surveillance process, staff are not allowed to discuss details of specific interviews outside their work environment.