Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System State-Added Questions: Leveraging an Existing Surveillance System to Improve Knowledge of Women's Reproductive Health.

Abstract

As the prevalence of chronic conditions among women of reproductive age continues to rise, studies assessing the intersection of chronic disease and women's reproductive health status are increasingly needed. However, many data systems collect only limited information on women's reproductive health, thereby hampering the appraisal of risk and protective factors across the life span. One way to expand the study of women's health with minimal investment in time and resources is to integrate questions on reproductive health into existing surveillance systems. In 2013, previously validated questions on women's self-reported reproductive history, use of contraception, and infertility were added to the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS) by seven states (Connecticut, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Mississippi, Ohio, Texas, and Utah); all female respondents aged 18-50 years were included in the pool of respondents for these state-added questions. Of 8691 women who completed the questions, 13.2% reported ever experiencing infertility and 59.8% of those at risk for unintended pregnancy reported using contraception at last intercourse. The information garnered from the state-added reproductive health questions can be augmented with the BRFSS core questions on health-related risk behaviors, chronic conditions, and use of preventive services. Expanding existing data collection systems with supplemental questions on women's reproductive health can provide important information on risk factors and outcomes that may not be available from other sources.

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