WISQARS Frequently Asked Questions

General FAQ

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Injury Prevention and Control. Web-based Injury Statistics Query and Reporting System (WISQARS) [online]) [cited Year Month (abbreviated) Day]. Available from URL: www.wisqars.cdc.gov

Yes, each module has an "Export Data" or "Export Options" function that allows you to download data to you computer.

Fatal Injury Data FAQs

Fatal injury data from the National Vital Statistics System (NVSS), CDC's National Center for Health Statistics, is available in the folowing WISQARS modules.

  • Injury Reports - Find tables of the total number of injury deaths and death rates by intent and mechanism (cause) of injury.
  • Injury Explore - Explore fatal injury data presented in an interactive, visual format to easily identify populations at high risk of injury.
  • Fatal Injury Compare - Compare up to 3 injury-related causes of death by intent and mechanism or compare differences in injury-related Leading Causes of Death / Years of Potential Life Lost (YPLL) - Visualize the impact of injury-related deaths in the United States compared to other leading causes of death or find the impact of premature death resulting from injury compared to other leading causes of premature death.
  • Cost of Injury - Find the medical care, work loss, value of statistical life, and quality of life loss costs for injury deaths.
  • Infographics - Quickly visualize key statistics for injury topics using fatal and nonfatal data in one easy-to-read summary page.
  • Health Equity Module - Learn how the conditions in the places where people live, learn, work, and play affect injury rates.
  • Animated Ten Leading Causes of Death - Visualize top ten leading causes of death in the United States for ages 1-44 from 1981 to present
  • Fatal Injury Trends - See number of all unintentional fatal injuries and select fatal injury types by month and year, including provisional data.

You can request statistics for a specific population based on census region, state of residence, sex, age, race, and Hispanic origin. Race information is not available in cost of injury, infographics, health equity, and provisional data modules.

The regions, defined by the U.S. Census Bureau are made up of the following states:

Northeast: CT, MA, ME, NH, NJ, NY, PA, RI, VT

South: AL, AR, DC, DE, FL, GA, KY, LA, MD, MS, NC, OK, SC, TN, TX, VA, WV

Midwest: IA, IL, IN, KS, MI, MN, MO, ND, NE, OH, SD, WI

West: AK, AZ, CA, CO, HI, ID, MT, NM, NV, OR, UT, WA, WY

Death data come from the National Vital Statistics System (NVSS) compiled by CDC's National Center for Health Statistics. This database contains information from death certificates filed in state vital-statistics offices and includes causes of death reported by attending physicians, medical examiners, and coroners. It also includes demographic information about decedents reported by funeral directors, who obtain that information from family members and other informants.

Population data come from the Bureau of the Census. These data are based on information gathered in censuses and on estimation procedures conducted in non-census years.

WISQARS figures the crude rate per 100,000 by dividing the number of deaths in a particular population by the total number of people in that population, then multiplying that ratio by 100,000.

Some injuries are more prevalent among certain age groups than among others. For example, deaths from falls occur more often among older Americans than among any other age group. Age adjustment allows us to compare injury rates without concern that differences in those rates are caused by variations in the age distributions between populations or among the same population over time. In other words, it allows us to compare apples to apples, rather than apples to oranges.

When reports or visualizations are requested for all ages in a particular population, WISQARS automatically calculates age-adjusted rates, unless you choose otherwise. However, for reports requested by standard age groups and custom age ranges, only crude rates per 100,000 are available. The method used to calculate age adjustment does not allow WISQARS to compute age-adjusted rates by age groups.

Years of Potential Life Lost (YPLL) is a measure of premature mortality (early death). YPLL provides insight into the impact of injury-related death on society compared to other leading causes of death. This measure is important for injury prevention because injury is the leading cause of death for persons aged 1 through 44 years.

For a given cause category, WISQARS calculates the years lost before age 65 (YPLL-65) through two steps. First, the system subtracts each deceased person's age at death from 65. Next, the system adds the results — the "years lost"– for all deceased people in that category. WISQARS modules with fatal data allow you to change the standard age from 65 to other ages in five-year increments up to age 85 (e.g., 70, 75, 80, 85).

Rates provided in WISQARS modules with fatal injury data are tagged with a state or county Federal Information Processing Standard (FIPS) code. These codes uniquely identify states and counties.

The maps displayed in WISQARS Explore, Infographics, and Health Equity modules rely on "shape" files that are used to draw state and county boundaries. Each shape is also tagged with a FIPS code that uniquely identifies the corresponding state or county. Maps are displayed using these shape files from the latest year found in the "Year To" selection.

Rate maps are produced by matching the FIPS codes for the map shapes (states or counties) to the FIPS codes for the rates. Each rate is also tagged with an interval number, which determines the color used to fill in each map shape.

Geographic boundaries of counties occasionally change due to splits, merges, or other a dministrative actions. Data recorded subsequent to such actions may not immediately reflect the changed geography. WISQARS Explore, Infographics, and Health Equity modules present county-level maps that reflect the geography most compatible with the way in which the relevant data were recorded.

View changes to counties or county-equivalent entities at Census.gov .

The cause you select, together with the intent you select, allows you to narrow the search to a particular injury category. Not all combinations are valid. The table below shows the available cause options and intent options. An X indicates a valid cause-intent combination. For instance, the cause drowning / submersion and the intent suicide are a valid combination, so an "X" appears in the box for that combination. Drowning / submersion and legal intervention are not valid, so the box for that combination is blank.

Valid Cause and Intent Combinations for 1999 and Later Data

Cause / Mechanism


Intent / Manner

UnintentionalSuicideHomicideHomicide and Legal InterventionLegal InterventionViolence RelatedUndetermined
All Injury/Adverse EffectsXX      
Drowning/ SubmersionXXXXX XX
Fire/burnXXXX  XX
Fire/flameXXXX  XX
Hot ObjectXXXX  XX
Residential Fire/FlameXX      
Transportation- relatedXXXXX X 
Motor Vehicle (MV), OverallXXXXX XX
MV TrafficXX     X
Pedal CycleXX      
Pedal Cycle, OtherXX      
Pedestrian, OtherXX      
Pedal CycleXX      
Other Land TransportXXXXX XX
Transport, OtherXX      
Natural / EnvironmentalXX      
Non-Firearm  XX    
Struck by, againstXXXXXXXX
SuffocationXXXX  XX
Terrorism  XXX X 
Other specified, classifiableXXXXXXXX
Other specified, not elsewhere classifiable(NEC)XXXXXXXX
Adverse EffectsX       
Medical CareX       

Nonfatal Injury Data FAQs

Nonfatal injury data from the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System-All Injury Program (NEISS-AIP) , is available in the following WISQARS modules:

  • Injury Reports - Find tables of national estimates of injuries treated in U.S. hospital emergency departments (ED) by intent and mechanism (cause) of injury.
  • Injury Explore - Explore nonfatal injury data presented in an interactive, visual format to easily identify populations at risk of nonfatal injuries.
  • Leading Causes of Nonfatal Injury - visualize the ranking of leading causes of nonfatal injuries treated in EDs by age and sex of the injured patient, intent of injury, and disposition when released from the ED.
  • Cost of Injury- Find the medical, work loss, and quality of life loss costs for nonfatal injuries.
  • Infographics- Quickly visualize key statistics for injury topics using fatal and nonfatal data in one easy-to-read summary page.

The nonfatal injury data reported in WISQARS are obtained from an expansion of the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System (NEISS) operated by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC). The expanded system, called the NEISS All Injury Program (NEISS-AIP) began on July 1, 2000, and collects data about all types and external causes of non-fatal injuries and poisonings treated in U.S. hospital emergency departments (EDs)–whether or not they are associated with consumer products. The NEISS All Injury Program (NEISS-AIP) is a collaborative effort by the National Center for Injury Prevention and Control (NCIPC) and CPSC.

The nonfatal injury data used in WISQARS nonfatal are taken from a sample of 100 U.S. hospital emergency departments and are weighted to represent a national average. Therefore, data is not available by other geographies because of the low statistical power and lack of representativeness at those lower levels of granularity.


WISQARS National Violent Death Reporting System (NVDRS) module presents mortality data for fatal injuries due to homicide, suicide, deaths of undetermined intent that may have been due to violence, legal intervention deaths, and unintentional firearm deaths.

NVDRS makes a unique contribution in that it captures information from 3 data sources (death certificates, law enforcement reports, and coroner/medical examiner reports), and includes detailed information on circumstances (events that preceded and may have contributed to the victim's death) as well as detailed information on toxicology, weapons, injuries and other incident characteristics.

This information is more comprehensive than other databases of deaths due to violence such as the National Vital Statistics System.

NVDRS circumstances reported in WISQARS NVDRS are different for different manners of death. Circumstances for suicide and undetermined death relate to mental health history and status, whether the person disclosed intent to die by suicide and other precipitating factors related to things going on in the decedent's life (e.g., whether the person was experiencing a crisis, job problems, financial problems). For homicide, circumstance information is captured on crime and criminal activity, and interpersonal conflict. Circumstance variables for unintentional firearm deaths are related to the context of the incident and how the firearm was being used at the time.

There are two primary ways to access more NVDRS data:

(1) One way is through the NVDRS Restricted Access database (NVDRS RAD). Eligibility requirements and the process for applying to use NVDRS RAD are described on the NVDRS Data Access page.

(2) The other way to access more NVDRS data is to read existing publications that have used NVDRS data. A list of publications by CDC staff and external researchers who have used NVDRS data is found on the NVDRS Resources page.