NVDRS Data Access

Data Access

NVDRS data are stored in an incident-based, relational database. Descriptive data can be accessed free of charge from NCIPC’s Web-based Injury Statistics and Query System (WISQARS). More detailed data from the NVDRS Restricted Access Database (RAD) are available by request for users meeting certain eligibility criteria.

NVDRS Data for Media

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

WISQARS Violent Deaths (NVDRS) Module

Data and Publications

WISQARS is an interactive query system that provides data on fatal and nonfatal injuries in the United States. Any data user can access WISQARS online.

The NVDRS module in WISQARS provides descriptive information on violence-related deaths available from participating states. The query system provides incident counts as well as crude and age-adjusted death rates by manner of death and cause of injury. Queries can be tailored to include specific states, years, age ranges, sex, and racial or ethnic groups of interest. Visit WISQARS NVDRS online for more information.

NVDRS Restricted Access Database (RAD)

The NVDRS Restricted Access Database (RAD) is a de-identified, multi-state, case-level data set comprising hundreds of unique variables. The database includes short narratives to describe the circumstances related to violent deaths, including descriptions from law enforcement and coroner/medical examiner investigative reports.

The RAD contains confidential information that could lead to accidental disclosure of the identity of suspects and victims. CDC protects these data by requiring users to meet certain eligibility requirements and to take steps necessary to ensure the security of data, preserve confidentiality, and prevent unauthorized access.

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. Eligible investigators must prepare and submit a proposal for review. 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.

Eligibility to Apply for NVDRS RAD

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 his/her 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) focus 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.

Proposal Package and Submission

The 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):
    • Key study questions or hypotheses
    • 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:
    • Summary of the variables needed for the proposed research. Certain sensitive variables (as denoted in the variable specifications sheet) require detailed explanation of why the variables are needed to answer study questions. To obtain the NVDRS coding manual, file specification sheet, and other NVDRS related materials, please reach out to nvdrs-rad@cdc.gov.
    • Description of any data from other sources that might be linked with NVDRS data, including how data sources will be linked.
    • Proposed analytic strategy (e.g., statistical analysis, data linkages).
  9. Data management plan, including a description of the mechanisms that will be in place to secure the data, preserve confidentiality, and prevent unauthorized access. This plan should include information about data storage, limitations on access to the data, technical security practices in place 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. Completed and signed copy of the NVDRS Data Sharing Agreement (Note: All collaborators who will be accessing the RAD files under the requesting Principal Investigator’s supervision must sign the NVDRS RAD Data Sharing Agreement.). The NVDRS Data Sharing Agreement form should be requested prior to submitting the proposal.
  12. Completed variable specifications sheet that lists available variables in NVDRS.
  13. Signed copy of approval from the institutional review board, if the proposal includes any potential linking of NVDRS data with another data source that contains personally identifiable information.

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. The review committee will assess the following criteria 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 4-6 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 secure FTP (file transfer protocol).

Investigators are permitted to conduct only those analyses that have received approval. RAD requesters can request to add data years and new investigators/staff to an approved project and to modify the scope of the study. Requests to add data years to an existing project that has been approved will be expedited and 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 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
  • Submit an amendment form (if applicable)