To better understand and prevent suicide and homicide, the National Center for Injury Prevention and Control of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention launched the National Violent Death Reporting System (NVDRS) in six states in 2002. As of 2018, the NVDRS has been expanded to include all 50 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico. The purpose of this review was to assess the research utility of the NVDRS based on studies indexed in major bibliographical databases.
We performed a scoping review of published studies that were based on data from the NVDRS, identified by searching six electronic databases: PubMed, EMBASE, Google Scholar, OVID, Scopus, and Web of Science. We examined the time trend of annual NVDRS-based research output, generated a word cloud using the keywords listed in the publications, and mapped the knowledge domains covered by NVDRS-based studies.
Our review included a total of 150 studies published between 2005 and 2018. There was a marked increase in the annual number of NVDRS-based publications, with 120 (80.0%) of the 150 studies published between 2011 and 2018. Overall, 104 (69.3%) studies focused on suicide and 39 (26.0%) on homicide. Of the included studies, 100 (66.7%) were descriptive epidemiology, 31 (20.7%) were risk factor analyses, 9 (6.0%) were evaluations, 7 (4.7%) were trend analyses, and 4 (2.7%) were data quality assessments. Knowledge domain mapping identified two major clusters of studies, one on suicide and the other on homicide. The cluster on suicide was commonly linked to “circumstance,” “alcohol” and “substance abuse” and the cluster on homicide was commonly linked to “firearm,” “injury,” and “gang.” The two clusters were interlinked to overlapping networks of keywords, such as “firearm” and “mental health problem.”
Research utility of the NVDRS has increased considerably in recent years. Studies based on data from the NVDRS are clustered in two knowledge domains – suicide and homicide. The vast potential of the NVDRS for violence research and prevention remains to be fully exploited.