WISQARS™ NVDRS Frequently Asked Questions

What data can I get from WISQARS NVDRS?

WISQARS Violent Deaths (NVDRS) presents mortality data for fatal injuries due to homicide, suicide, deaths of undetermined intent that may have been due to violence, legal intervention deaths, and unintentional firearm deaths.

NVDRS makes a unique contribution in that it captures information from 3 data sources (death certificates, law enforcement reports, and coroner/medical examiner reports, and includes detailed information on circumstances (events that preceded and may have contributed to the victim’s death) as well as detailed information on toxicology, weapons, injuries and other incident characteristics.

This information is more comprehensive than other databases of deaths due to violence such as the National Vital Statistics System (NVSS; see ‘Fatal Injuries’ in WISQARS).


What data can’t I get from WISQARS NVDRS?

While WISQARS NVDRS does provide a wide variety of information, it has limitations. The following are some of the items that are not currently available (suggested alternatives listed where applicable):

  • Data for every U.S. state, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico (i.e., national data) – We anticipate that this will be available in the future, as all U.S. states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico are currently collecting NVDRS data.
    • For national counts and rates of deaths due to violence and/or unintentional firearm deaths see National Vital Statistics System data available via WISQARS Fatal Injury Data or CDC WONDER Detailed or Compressed Mortality files.
  • Data on nonfatal injuries due to violence, because NVDRS is a mortality (deaths) database.
    • For data on nonfatal injuries due to violence and/or nonfatal unintentional firearm injuries, see National Electronic Injury Surveillance System – All Injury Program (NEISS-AIP) data available via WISQARS Nonfatal Injury Data.
  • County-level data
    • For county-level counts and rates of deaths due to violence and/or unintentional firearm deaths, see CDC WONDER Detailed or Compressed Mortality files.
  • City-level data

There are other data elements in NVDRS that are not included in NVDRS WISQARS.  If a data user is interested in accessing more extensive NVDRS data (NVDRS Restricted Access Database), there is an application process described on the NVDRS Data Access page.


What is the suggested citation for WISQARS NVDRS?

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


Are the circumstances reported for different manners of death in WISQARS NVDRS the same or different?

NVDRS circumstances reported in WISQARS NVDRS are different for different manners of death. Circumstances for suicide and undetermined death relate to mental health history and status, whether the person disclosed intent to die by suicide and other precipitating factors related to things going on in the decedent’s life (e.g., whether the person was experiencing a crisis, job problems, financial problems). For homicide, circumstance information is captured on crime and criminal activity, and interpersonal conflict. Circumstance variables for unintentional firearm deaths are related to the context of the incident and how the firearm was being used at the time.


What data elements/variables are part of NVDRS?

See in the Data Elements section.


How can I access more NVDRS data?

There are two primary ways to access more NVDRS data:

(1)  One way is through the NVDRS Restricted Access database (NVDRS RAD).  Eligibility requirements and the process for applying to use NVDRS RAD are described on the NVDRS Data Access page.

(2) The other way to access more NVDRS data is to read existing publications that have used NVDRS data.  A list of publications by CDC staff and external researchers who have used NVDRS data is found on the NVDRS Resources page.


Can I download the information obtained from my WISQARS NVDRS query to my computer?

Each report allows you to download the output table in a comma-separated value (csv) format.  This format is commonly read into spreadsheet applications by opening the csv file from within the application. To do this, take the following steps:

  1. In the ‘Select Report Format’ menu in the bottom left corner of the query screen, select ‘Spreadsheet’ as the format. A window will appear asking whether to open the file or save it.
  2. Select “Save” or “Save as.”
  3. Browse for and select the location (folder, drive, etc.) where you want to save the data. Click on the “Save” button.
  4. If desired, open the csv file from within spreadsheet software (e.g., Excel).