National Violent Death Reporting System

Restricted Access Database (RAD)

The National Violent Death Reporting System (NVDRS) RAD is a de-identified, multi-state, case-level microdata set comprised of hundreds of unique variables.  The data set is available to researchers who meet specific criteria. The RAD database also uses short narratives to describe the circumstances related to violent deaths, including descriptions from law enforcement and medical examiner or coroner reports. There is no cost for accessing the NVDRS RAD.The RAD request process has been enhanced, updated, and streamlined to create a more user-friendly experience. Enhancements include:
  • Data files are provided in a flat file format and are available in SAS or SPSS
  • Institutional Review Board (IRB) review is not required by CDC (unless required by your institution; still required for linkage projects)
  • Detailed documentation (e.g., RAD Users Guide)
  • Shorter response times to RAD user/applicant inquiries (1-2 business days)
  • Shorter review time for applications (2-3 weeks)

Guidelines for RAD Proposals

At this time, there are no costs for accessing the NVDRS RAD. It is also important to note that CDC staff are unable to provide analytic or other technical assistance to recipients for the proposed research.

Eligibility to Apply for RAD

To request the NVDRS RAD, the primary investigator must meet all of the following criteria:

  • Have a Ph.D., Dr. P.H., M.D., ScD, D.O., or other doctoral level degree
  • Hold a research position or faculty appointment at his/her institution
  • Home institution must be a research organization, government agency, or institution of higher education. This includes research foundations or grant-making organizations.
  • Agreement to comply with NVDRS RAD security, confidentiality, and data protection requirements, as outlined during the review process

Local, county, and state government employees, regardless of degree or research position, are also eligible to apply for the NVDRS RAD. Eligible 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 are considered during the proposal package review process.

Proposal Package and Submission

The 2-4 page proposal package must include the items listed below. Submit the package to NVDRS RAD at

  1. Cover letter on official home institution letterhead
  2. Project title
  3. Abstract: max. 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 care of the data and for compliance with the terms of the data sharing agreement
  5. Names of all other collaborators who will be accessing the RAD files under the requesting principal investigator’s supervision
  6. Source of funding for the proposed project, if applicable
  7. Background of study (max. 250 words):
    • Key study questions or hypotheses
    • Public health benefits. Requestors must provide evidence that there is a legitimate public health purpose that justifies the use of the data.
  8. Methods for the study (max. 700 words) including:
    • 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. In addition to specifying the requested NVDRS variables, any data from other sources that might be merged with NVDRS data should be described. To obtain the NVDRS coding manual and other NVDRS related materials, please visit the NVDRS Technical Assistance page.
    • Proposed analytic strategy (e.g., statistical analysis, data linkages).
  9. Data management plan, including 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. This section must also include a 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 five years from the receipt of the data unless otherwise specified.
  10. Description of the anticipated products, reports, and publications to be derived from the data analyses (max. 250 words).
  11. The requestor must also include in the proposal package a completed and signed copy of the NVDRS Data Sharing Agreement (Note: All collaborators on the proposal must sign this 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 then a signed copy of approval from the institution’s IRB should be included.

Review Process

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.

Upon receipt of the proposal package, a committee will review the submission to ensure it meets the requirements established to protect the confidentiality of the data. In each proposal, the review committee will look for the following criteria:

  • 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 will be served by use of the data

The committee reviews proposals as they are received, and typically responds within 3-4 weeks. An incomplete proposal package will be returned upon receipt. 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 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 Information

Contact the NVDRS RAD team at for the following:

  • Any 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
Page last reviewed: September 18, 2017