NVDRS Data Access

At a glance

  • National Violent Death Reporting System (NVDRS) data can be accessed two different ways on CDC.gov, both free of charge: through a public query portal or a research application.
  • Basic data can be seen via the Web-based Injury Statistics and Query System (WISQARS) NVDRS.
  • Those needing more detailed data must apply for access to the NVDRS Restricted Access Database (RAD).

WISQARS Violent Deaths (NVDRS) Module

The Web-based Injury Statistics and Query System (WISQARS) provides data on fatal and nonfatal injuries in the United States. It is a free interactive resource that is open to everyone.

The NVDRS module in WISQARS gives descriptive information on violence-related deaths from participating states and jurisdictions.

Within this module, you can view incident counts and rates by manner of death and cause of injury. Searches can be customized to include specific states or jurisdictions, years, age ranges, sex, and racial or ethnic groups of interest. Further information is available on circumstances associated with deaths, type of location where the incident occurred, relationship between victim and suspected perpetrator and more.

NVDRS data for media

Journalists with questions about NVDRS data should contact CDC Media Relations.

NVDRS Restricted Access Database (RAD)

The NVDRS Restricted Access Database (RAD) is a free, multi-state, case-level data set with hundreds of unique variables. Cases of violent deaths are given additional context with descriptions from law enforcement and coroner/medical examiner reports.

Although the data is de-identified, the RAD contains confidential details about incidents in NVDRS. If you would like access to the RAD, you must meet certain eligibility requirements and take steps to ensure confidentiality and data security.

Upon approval to access the database, investigators must prepare and submit a research proposal for review. The investigator's ability to conduct the proposed research, as well as their ability to comply with NVDRS RAD security, confidentiality, and data protection requirements are considered during the review process.

Please be aware, CDC staff cannot help researchers with analytical or technical assistance.

To request access to the NVDRS RAD, the principal investigator must meet all of the following criteria:

  • Earned a master's degree or higher.
  • Hold a research position or faculty appointment at their institution; students must apply under the mentorship of a faculty member, with the mentoring faculty member serving as the principal investigator.
  • Home institution must be a research organization or a designated research department or office within a larger organization.
    • Research is defined as conducting studies and producing reports to contribute to generalizable knowledge around the issues central to the organization's mission. For the purposes of the NVDRS RAD, a research organization either (a) focuses exclusively on conducting research, or (b) has a core purpose that includes routinely conducting research.
    • Research organizations can include institutes of higher education, government agencies, research foundations, and non-profit research institutions. Independent research institutes that have close relationships with large institutions (e.g., universities) but are not part of the institution and operate under their own authority also qualify for the NVDRS RAD provided that the other requirements are met.

Local, county, tribal, and state government employees, regardless of degree or research position, are also eligible to apply for the NVDRS RAD as part of their official research responsibilities.

All principal investigators must agree to comply with NVDRS RAD security, confidentiality, and data protection requirements, as outlined during the review process. Eligible principal investigators must prepare and submit a proposal. The ability of the principal investigator to conduct the proposed analyses and to comply with NVDRS RAD security, confidentiality, and data protection requirements is considered during the proposal package review process.

The two-four page proposal package must include the items listed below. Submit the package to NVDRS RAD at nvdrs-rad@cdc.gov.

  1. Cover letter on official home institution letterhead.
  2. Project title.
  3. Abstract: maximum of 250 words summarizing the project.
  4. Full personal identification, institutional affiliation, mailing addresses, phone, and email address of the person to be primarily responsible for the care of the data and for compliance with the terms of the data sharing agreement.
  5. Names and institutional affiliations of all other collaborators who will be accessing the RAD files under the principal investigator's supervision.
  6. Source of funding for the proposed project, if applicable.
  7. Background of study (maximum of 250 words):
    1. Key study questions or hypotheses
    2. Public health benefits: Requestors must provide evidence of a legitimate public health purpose that justifies the use of the data.
  8. Methods for the study (maximum 700 words) including:
    1. Summary of the variables needed for the proposed research. A variable specifications sheet that lists available variables in the NVDRS will be provided prior to submitting the proposal and should be used for this purpose. This sheet with requested variables should be returned with the proposal. To obtain the NVDRS coding manual, file specification sheet, and other NVDRS related materials, please reach out to nvdrs-rad@cdc.gov.
    2. Description of any data from other sources that might be merged with NVDRS data.
    3. Proposed analytic strategy (e.g., statistical analysis, data linkages).
  9. Data management plan (maximum 500 words) including:
    1. Description of the mechanisms that will be in place to secure the data, preserve confidentiality, and prevent unauthorized access. These mechanisms are to include the data storage plan, limitations on access to the data, technical security practices such as password protection, use of stand-alone computers, encryption, and procedures covering networked computers and servers.
    2. Description of the destruction of all NVDRS RAD files, and all derived files, when the approved use of the data will have been completed (i.e., on the agreed upon date scheduled by the CDC). The destruction date is three years from the receipt of the data unless otherwise specified. Before the three-year period expires, the principal investigator can apply to extend this destruction date for up to 2 one-year extensions.
  10. Description of the anticipated products, reports, and publications to be created from the data analyses (maximum 250 words).
  11. Completed and signed copy of the NVDRS Data Sharing Agreement. Note: All collaborators on the proposal must sign the NVDRS RAD Data Sharing Agreement. The NVDRS Data Sharing Agreement form should be requested prior to submitting the proposal.
  12. If the proposal includes any potential linking of NVDRS data with another data source that contains personally identifiable information, a signed copy of approval from the institution’s institutional review board (IRB) should be included.

The NVDRS RAD review committee consists of a panel of scientific and data analysis experts within CDC’s National Center for Injury Prevention and Control.

The committee will review proposals to ensure they meet the data confidentiality requirements established to protect the confidentiality of the data.

The following criteria will be assessed for each proposal:

  • Scientific and technical feasibility of the study.
  • Qualifications of all people who will have access to the data.
  • Consistency between requested data and study goals.
  • Description of any additional data that will be linked to NVDRS RAD data.
  • Anticipated publications or other dissemination of results.
  • Risk of disclosure of restricted information.
  • Protections in place to maintain confidentiality of the data.
  • A legitimate public health purpose being served by use of the data.

The committee reviews proposals as they are received, and typically responds within three-four weeks. The review of complex projects that require extensive communication between NVDRS staff and the applicants may take longer to complete. When a proposal is approved, the principal investigator will be notified by email and will receive the data via secure FTP (file transfer protocol).

Investigators are permitted to conduct only those analyses that have received approval. Requests to add data years to an existing project that has been approved will be expedited; in this case, a committee review is not required.

CDC reserves the right to deny or terminate any project at any time when it deems an investigator's/researcher's actions may compromise confidentiality or ethical standards of behavior in a research environment. Failure to comply will result in the cancellation of the research activity and exclusion from future research activities using the NVDRS RAD.

Contact the NVDRS RAD team at nvdrs-rad@cdc.gov to:

  • Ask questions and further information about the NVDRS RAD.
  • Request a copy of the NVDRS RAD data sharing agreement.
  • Request a copy of the NVDRS RAD variable specification sheet.
  • Submit the proposal package.