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Policy Issue Brief - The National Violent Death Reporting System (NVDRS)
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Issue

Every year 37,000 Americans end their own lives and 17,000 are murdered.[1]  Suicide and homicide are respectively the second and third leading causes of death for people younger than age 40.[2]  In addition to lives lost, there are significant financial costs.  The CDC estimates the cost of violent deaths in the U.S. to be $47 billion dollars annually.[1]

 These data underscore the need for a systematic approach to violence prevention, yet a significant barrier to address this grave public health problem lies in the paucity of comprehensive information regarding the circumstances surrounding violent death.  In response to this need, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) developed the National Violent Death Reporting System (NVDRS), a state-based violent death surveillance system that makes better use of data that are already being collected by health, law enforcement, and social service agencies.  NVDRS, in fact, does not require the collection of any new data.   Instead it links together information that, when kept in separate compartments, is much less valuable as a tool to characterize and monitor violent deaths.

 History

The first nationwide injury tracking system was the Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS), created in 1975 by the Department of Transportation to record information on fatal motor vehicle crashes.  The success of the FARS program inspired the development of the National Violent Injury Statistics System (NVISS).  NVISS began in 1999 as a joint effort between six private foundation and Harvard University to collect comprehensive data on violent deaths from multiple sources in 13 states.  Demonstrated utility of this program led to the development of NVDRS.  In 2002, Congress appropriated funding for the CDC Injury Prevention and Control Center to develop and implement NVDRS in six states.  

Status
With a budget of $3.5 million for 2011, the program has expanded to operate in 18 states yet many more states have express interest in joining NVDRS with six states deemed approved but not funded.  In states with NVDRS, the data collected increases knowledge about where the problem of violent death exists, the groups most at risk, and trends over time and acts as a foundation upon which prevention activities and processes are built.  Until NVDRS expands, it is unable to provide nationally-representative data.

ACPM, through its role as chair of the National Violence Prevention Network (www.preventviolence.net), is working towards national implementation of NVDRS and has requested $5 million in FY 2012 funding to expand the program to at least 6 more states.  The CDC has estimated that $25 million is needed to ensure national implementation.

 



[1] Kochanek KD, Xu JQ, Murphy SL, Miniño AM, Kung HC. Deaths: Preliminary Data for 2009. National Vital Statistics Reports; vol 59 no 4. Hyattsville, MD: National Center for Health Statistics. 2011.

[2]  Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Injury Prevention and Control. Web-based Injury Statistics Query and Reporting System (WISQARS) [online]. (2011). Available from URL:http://www.cdc.gov/ncipc/wisqars.

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