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Linking Data to Save Lives: Recent Progress in Establishing a National Violent Death Reporting System

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Publication Date: October 2001

Publisher(s): Harvard Health Policy Review

Author(s): Deborah Azrael, MS; Catherine Barber; James Mercy

Series:

Special Collection: The Joyce Foundation

Topic: Social conditions (Safety and security)
Social conditions (Social research)
Social conditions (Social policy)

Keywords: violence prevention; gun laws; gun violence

Type: Report

Coverage: United States

Abstract:

The study of U.S. homicides and suicides has been hampered by poor information about the characteristics of these events that can be derived from publicly available data. Researchers attempting to evaluate policies aimed at reducing violence have generally relied on the limited outcome data that are available from the National Vital Statistics Mortality System and the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Uniform Crime Reports, or on costly case control studies with limited generalizability. As a result, public discourse on violence prevention often takes place in an information vacuum and the development of effective prevention programs and policies has been inhibited.

The U.S. currently lacks a state-based, national surveillance system for this leading cause of death. The enormous benefits of a state-based, national reporting system to track the incidence and characteristics of health conditions have been well-established in other areas, such as infectious disease and motor vehicle safety.

This study calls for the creation of a national reporting system for violent injuries and summarizes efforts to establish such a system that have occurred for over 10 years.