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Web-based Injury Statistics Query and Reporting System (WISQARS™) Fatal Injury Help Menu

7.0 WISQARS™ Fatal FAQs

What is WISQARSTM Fatal?

WISQARSTM (Web-based Injury Statistics Query and Reporting System, pronounced "whiskers") Fatal is an interactive database system that provides injury-related mortality data useful for research and for making informed public health decisions.  WISQARS offers five types of reports:  mortality reports, leading causes of death reports, years of potential life lost reports (YPLL), fatal injury mapping reports, and cost of injury reports. Injury mortality reports provide number of injury deaths and death rates for specific external causes of injuries.  Leading causes of death reports provide the number of injury-related deaths relative to the number of other leading causes of death in the United States or in individual states.  YPLL reports compare premature mortality (early death) between different causes of death.

What types of reports does WISQARS Fatal offer?

What is the suggested citation for WISQARS Fatal?

What can I get from WISQARS Fatal?

What can't I get from WISQARS Fatal?

Where does WISQARS Fatal get its data?

Why can't I combine 1999 data with earlier years of data?

When will new data be available for WISQARS Fatal?

What can I get from WONDER?

Why can't I get data prior to 1981?

Tell me about crude and age-adjusted rates in injury mortality reports.

How can I get reports sorted by Hispanic origin, or intent?

Why isn’t American Indian/Alaska Native race an option for nonfatal reports?

Why are some numbers suppressed?

How can I request a chart of leading causes of injury-related deaths?

What about ICD codes not covered by WISQARS Fatal?

Can I get information on total deaths and not just injury deaths?

How can I download the information to my PC?

What is YPLL?

What are malignant neoplasms?

What states are included in the four regions used by WISQARS?

What types of reports does WISQARS Fatal offer?

  • Fatal Injury Reports
  • Leading Causes of Death Reports
  • Years of Potential Life Lost (YPLL) Reports
  • Fatal Injury Mapping Reports
  • Cost of Injury Reports

What is the suggested citation for WISQARS Fatal?

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Injury Prevention and Control. Web-based Injury Statistics Query and Reporting System (WISQARS) [online]. (2005) [cited Year Month (abbreviated) Day].  Available from URL: www.cdc.gov/injury/wisqars

What can I get from WISQARS Fatal?

WISQARs Fatal presents mortality data in five report formats: injury mortality reports, leading causes of death reports, and years of potential life lost (YPLL) reports, fatal injury mapping reports, and cost of injury reports.  You can request statistics for a specific population based on census region / state of residence, race, sex, and Hispanic origin (e.g. Black Females in Michigan).  Race categories are white, black, American Indian / Alaskan Native, Asian and Pacific Islander, and other (which is all non-white and non-black and may include other races not listed here). Race information is not available in cost of injury reports.

In addition, for mortality reports and leading causes of death reports, you can request particular age ranges: five- and ten-year age groups or specific age ranges (such as 13-19).  Injury mortality reports also can present the statistics ordered by these specific definitions as well as other parameters. For example, you can request a report for a mechanism/cause and manner/intent in a specific state by sex and race.

You can request YPLL reports that use ages 65 to 85 (in five year increments) as the cutoff year.  

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What can't I get from WISQARS Fatal?

While WISQARS Fatal does provide a wide variety of information, it has limitations.  The following are some of the items not available in WISQARS Fatal:

  • Reports for data prior to 1981 
  • Hispanic origin data prior to 1990
  • User-defined age groups prior to 1990
  • Reports using causes of death codes not already defined (see What can I get from WONDER?)
  • Non-injury data, except what is available on leading causes of death reports
  • County-level data

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Where does WISQARS get its data?
 
Death data come from a national mortality database compiled by CDC's National Center for Health Statistics. This database contains information from death certificates filed in state vital-statistics offices and includes causes of death reported by attending physicians, medical examiners, and coroners. It also includes demographic information about decedents reported by funeral directors, who obtain that information from family members and other informants. Population data come from the Bureau of the Census. These data are based on information gathered in censuses and on estimation procedures conducted in non-census years. More information >>

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Why can't I combine 1999 data with earlier years of data?
 
The injury mortality data for 1999 and later is coded based on the ICD-10 classification system.  This system is notably different from the coding used for 1998 and earlier data, the ICD-9 classification system. Because of the different coding systems, you may not be able to compare numbers of deaths and deaths rates computed for some external causes of injury based on 1999 and later data to those based on data from 1998 and earlier.  Consequently, you must use caution when doing trend analysis of numbers of deaths and death rates across these years.  To help remind you of the difference between 1999 and later data and 1998 and earlier years of data, WISQARS offers the data separately.

 

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When will new data be available for WISQARS?
 

The mortality data reported on NCIPC web pages come from death-certificate data reported to the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS). NCHS takes about 18 months to compile, verify, and prepare these data for release to the public. After NCHS releases the data, NCIPC updates the WISQARS web pages, a process that takes a few weeks.

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What can I get from WONDER?

CDC's WONDER (Wide-ranging Online Data for Epidemiological Research) system at http://wonder.cdc.gov/ is similar to WISQARS Fatal's injury mortality reports but has different characteristics.  WONDER uses a variety of data sources, while WISQARS Fatal does not.  In addition, WONDER's mortality data reports differs from WISQARS Fatal's in the following ways: 

Feature WISQARS WONDER
Age group specified by user X  
American Indian / Alaskan Native and 
Asian / Pacific Islander race data
X  
County-level information   X
Data prior to 1981   X
Hispanic origin data X  
Leading causes of death report X  
Specification of user-defined causes of death codes   X

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Why can't I get data prior to 1981?


Suitable population data does not exist for the years prior to 1981.  For requests for data prior to 1981, WONDER may provide the necessary information.  

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Tell me about crude and age-adjusted rates in injury mortality reports.

WISQARS Fatal figures the crude rate per 100,000 by dividing the number of deaths in a particular population by the total number of people in that population, then multiplying that ratio by 100,000. Here’s an example:

In 1997, there were 103,010 deaths among U.S. males from all causes of injury. The U.S. male population that year was 131,017,669. To get the crude rate per 100,000, divide 103,010 by 131,017,669—you get 0.0007862. Now multiply by 100,000—you get 78.62. So, in 1997, for every 100,000 males in the U.S., 78.62 died from injuries.

Some injuries are more prevalent among certain age groups than among others. For example, deaths from falls occur more often among older Americans than among any other age group. Age adjustment allows us to compare injury rates without concern that differences in those rates are caused by variations in the age distributions between populations or among the same population over time. In other words, it allows us to compare apples to apples, rather than apples to oranges.

When reports are requested for all ages in a particular population, WISQARS Fatal automatically calculates age-adjusted rates, unless you choose otherwise. However, for reports requested by standard age groups and custom age ranges, only crude rates per 100,000 are available. The method used to calculate age adjustment does not allow  WISQARS Fatal to compute age-adjusted rates by age groups. More information >>

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How can I get reports sorted by Hispanic origin, or intent?

 
Some people would like one report to produce the number of deaths and death rates with output ordered by one of the following:

Category Example
Intent Unintentional Firearm, Firearm Suicides, and  Firearm Homicides deaths
Hispanic origin Hispanic and Non-Hispanic

Currently, WISQARS does not offer this feature. To obtain this information, you will need to run multiple reports. For example, you can run a report for all Hispanics and another report for all Non-Hispanics.

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Why isn’t American Indian/Alaska Native race an option for nonfatal reports?
Because of the relatively high proportion of cases with unknown/unspecified race/ethnicity (approximately 17% of overall cases), WISQARS Nonfatal does not provide injury rates for selected race/ethnicity groups.

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Why are some numbers suppressed?
See New Restrictions for Reporting State-level Death Counts and Death Rates for 2008 and Later.

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How can I request a chart of leading causes of injury-related deaths?

 
Requesting a chart of leading causes of injury-related deaths became available with the 1999 mortality data. From the WISQARS home page, select "Leading Causes of Death Reports." The appropriate report options page will appear. Under "Advanced Options," go to the pull-down menu titled "Categories of Causes" and select "All Injuries." For more information, see the WISQARS Fatal tutorial.

Note: Also part of this feature are the options to request leading causes of all unintentional injury deaths and leading causes of all violence-related injury deaths.

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What about ICD codes not covered by WISQARS?

 
International Classification of Disease Tenth Revision (ICD-10) codes are used to identify the underlying cause of death in National Center for Health Statistics' vital statistics data from 1999 and beyond. WISQARS uses groupings of these codes as defined in Preliminary ICD-10 Matrix.  For data prior to 1999, International Classification of Disease Ninth Revision (ICD-9) codes are used as presented in the Recommended Framework for Presenting Injury Mortality Data.  If you need specific codes that are not defined in WISQARSTM, you can specify them in WONDER.

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Can I get information on total deaths and not just injury deaths?
 

Yes--since release of the 1999 and later data, you can get information on total deaths.  Request a leading cause of death report, then click on any age group at the top of the report.  WISQARS Fatal will display the total number of deaths for that age group.

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How can I download the information to my PC?
 
Each report allows you to download the data in a comma-separated value (csv) format.  

  1. Select the link at the bottom of the report that says "Download Results in a Spreadsheet (CSV) File." A window will appear asking whether to open the file or save it.  
  2. Select "Save this file to disk" and click on the "OK" button.  
  3. Browse for and select the location (folder, drive, etc.) where you want to save the data.  Click on the "Save" button. 

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What is YPLL?
Years of potential life lost (YPLL) is a measure of premature mortality (early death). For more information about YPLLs, go to the WISQARS Fatal Help file, section 4.0.

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What are malignant neoplasms?
The term 'malignant neoplasms' is more commonly known as cancer.

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What states are included in the four regions used by WISQARS?
The regions, defined by the US Census Bureau, are made up of the following states:

Northeast: CT, MA, ME, NH, NJ, NY, PA, RI, VT

South: AL, AR, DC, DE, FL, GA, KY, LA, MD, MS, NC, OK, SC, TN, TX, VA, WV

Midwest: IA, IL, IN, KS, MI, MN, MO, ND, NE, OH, SD, WI

West: AK, AZ, CA, CO, HI, ID, MT, NM, NV, OR, UT, WA, WY

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WISQARS Fatal Injury Reports

 
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    National Center for Injury Prevention and Control (NCIPC)
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