Dear AJPM reader,

In our December 2020 issue, we present the latest installment of our From the Archive feature, which highlights an early AJPM article about the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveys, published in 1985 by James S. Marks and colleagues. These surveys were the precursor to the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS), a nationwide, state-run investigative tool that explicitly focuses on risk behaviors.

As Patrick L. Remington observes in his accompanying commentary, before the BRFSS, most U.S. surveillance systems focused on health outcomes—infectious diseases or cancer, for example—rather than the behavioral and other risk factors that might contribute to these outcomes. Over the past 35-plus years, the BRFSS has become an essential means for understanding the behaviors behind health outcomes, as well as the knowledge and attitudes that inform those behaviors.

Further, Marks and colleagues note in their commentary that the design of BRFSS has enabled researchers to compare across states over time, increasing understanding of topics ranging from obesity to drunk driving. It has also inspired development of other monitoring systems, including the Pregnancy Risk Assessment Monitoring System and Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System.

Today, the BRFSS continues to inform research, policy, and practice across a wide range of topics in public health and preventive medicine, including recent AJPM articles on adverse childhood events among American Indian/Alaska Native populations, diabetes care among low-income adults, intersectionality and health inequities among gender minority Blacks, and alcohol consumption among U.S. adults.

As we close out what has been a challenging year for many, we hope you find our December 2020 articles to be timely, topical and informative.

Yours in prevention and health,