Iowa is funded by the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention to collect data on violent deaths for the National Violent Death Reporting System.  Using a variety of source records, the Iowa Violent Death Reporting System (IAVDRS) gathers information on cause of death and contributing circumstances, and enters it into a national database.  Community partners and researchers can use the data to contribute to a better understanding of violent deaths and develop strategies to prevent them.

Iowa data collection started for deaths that occurred beginning in calendar year 2015. In 2015 data was collected from the seven most populous counties (Black Hawk, Johnson, Linn, Polk, Pottawattamie, Scott and Woodbury). Statewide data collection began in calendar year 2016. The department gathers reports from death certificates, medical examiner and law enforcement reports to identify circumstances that contribute to these types of violent deaths:

  • Homicides
  • Suicides
  • Deaths resulting from law enforcement intervention
  • Unintentional firearm injury deaths
  • Deaths of undetermined intent
  • Deaths resulting from terrorism

If you are interested in obtaining data from the program, please review this document:

Program Authority and Confidentiality

These sections of the Iowa Code provide IDPH the legal authority to run the IAVDRS program:

  • Section 136.3 ยง2c โ€“ State Board of Health duties and responsibilities
  • Section 135.11 ยง1 โ€“ Duties of the department of public health
  • Section 135.40 โ€“ allows IDPH to collect data for purposes of reducing morbidity and mortality

IAVDRS Confidentiality Procedures  

IAVDRS Advisory Committee

The program is guided by an advisory committee comprised of governmental and non-profit agencies and organizations. Meetings are held quarterly either virtually or in-person. If you are interested in attending a meeting of the IAVDRS Advisory Committee, contact Nafla Poff at

Purpose and Roles of IAVDRS Advisory Committee

The goal of our advisory committee is to guide the direction of IAVDRS programmatic efforts and data analysis, act as a vehicle for information dissemination, and to help leverage the support of new organizations and resources.  Additionally, members will offer technical advice, strategic planning, and support for IAVDRS's success.

Advisory Committee Composition: Committee members include persons who are associated with and knowledgeable about the data sources, are interested in using/analyzing the information, have expertise in data collection, will come to meetings, represent local/state agencies, and can influence agency decisions and cooperation (or effectively communicate reporting system concerns back to the decision makers).

Roles of the Advisory Board: Activities of our advisory committee will include:

  • Reviewing and advising procedures regarding data collection, linkage, and publication
  • Providing technical advice on implementation of the IAVDRS
  • Identifying the best uses of the data
  • Strategizing about how to remove obstacles and inefficiencies
  • Providing speaking opportunities with professional organizations
  • Obtaining or signing data-sharing agreements
  • Serving as evidence of broad, high-level support for the system
  • Facilitating the dissemination of data reports
  • Consulting on use of IAVDRS data to inform local prevention efforts 

Educational Resources

Program Newsletters

Data Reports

Process for Requesting Data From the Iowa Violent Death Reporting System

The Iowa Violent Death Reporting System (IAVDRS) is administered through the Iowa Department of Public Health (IDPH) and funded through a grant from the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC).  Data that is collected is entered into a federal database, the Secure Access Management System (SAMS).  IAVDRS desires that the data collected and abstracted by the program be available to community partners to inform the development of strategies to prevent deaths resulting from violence.  This document describes the type of data that can be requested and the process for making that request.   Data sources that are used for the IAVDRS are considered confidential.  These include death certificates (IDPH Bureau of Health Statistics), medical examiner reports (IDPH Office of the State Medical Examiner), and law enforcement investigative reports (obtained from state and local law enforcement agencies).  IDPH has a policy that governs release of confidential public health information.  It is posted on the IDPH internet at this link. Researchers who want access to the data need to follow the instructions for research requests found at this link Processing these requests may take six months or more.  For a current estimate of processing time, contact Summary data, which is statistical or aggregated, can generally be released to the public. At times, small count sizes may need to be suppressed (typically represented by an * in a table or chart) or approval to release may be needed from the IDPH Data Management Program or the State Medical Director. When possible and appropriate, the IAVDRS can combine several years of data in order to prevent the need to suppress numbers.  Challenges arise when the requestor desires information about county-level or specific population numbers (such as racial/ethnic breakdown).

Someone who wishes to request aggregated data from the program can initiate the process by emailing the Program Director and making the request.  She will determine how long it will take to fulfill the request or follow-up with clarifying questions.  The Program Director will then contact the Data Analyst or Program Epidemiologist to obtain the information and once received and approved, forward it to the requestor.  Depending on the detail of the request, most can be fulfilled within a two-week period. If the requestor desires access to data that cannot be made publicly available according to the IDPH Policy for Disclosure of Confidential Public Health Information, Records, or Data, a formal data request would need to be made.  For more information on this process and to apply, contact

Related Links

CDC - National Violent Death Reporting System webpage describes the national program and other funded states

CDC - Infographic about National Violent Death Reporting System (NVDRS)

CDC - WISQARSโ„ข (Web-based Injury Statistics Query a