PROJECT ABSTRACT: The Louisiana Department of Health (LDH) Office of Public Health (OPH) Bureau of Family Health (BFH) is the singular, qualified department within OPH concentrating on injury and violence reduction strategies. For the last 20 years, BFH has managed fetal, infant, child, and maternal mortality and injury surveillance, the past five of which has included the National Violent Death Reporting System (NVDRS) program. Violent death is an epidemic in Louisiana. From 2016-2020, almost 6900 individuals in Louisiana lost their lives as a result of violence. These persons left behind family and friends whose lives were most likely forever affected both emotionally and financially.
Participation in the NVDRS has provided Louisiana with an opportunity to build on past injury and mortality work, further strategic partnerships, and capitalize on the high level of state attention on improving Louisiana’s ability to better understand the impact of violence on our communities. With this proposal, the OPH BFH seeks to continue to lead the state’s mortality and injury surveillance efforts and support the data needs of collaborating prevention partners through collection of data for years 2023-2027 under NVDRS Option 1.
Over the past five years, The Louisiana Violent Death Reporting System (LA-VDRS) has expanded from a pilot program of four parishes (counties) in 2017 to a statewide surveillance system collecting data on violent deaths across Louisiana since 2018. LA-VDRS has worked to build partnerships and has increased data collection capabilities. As of spring of 2021, there are 58 coroners, 63 sheriff’s offices, and 74 police departments providing case information to LA-VDRS. These partnerships with coroners offices and law enforcement agencies have improved data quality and timeliness of LA-VDRS data, and will allow local violence prevention partners to use circumstantial violent death information to create interventions and policy changes to decrease violent deaths across the state. Other accomplishments the LA-VDRS program has made over the past six years are creating a fully electronic monthly import of NVDRS and SUDORS cases into SAMS, creating internal tracking documents that have increased timeliness, data quality, and has allowed abstractors to focus outreach accordingly, and began publishing NVDRS data with local partners.
The LA-VDRS team plans to build upon these past accomplishments to advances surveillance of violent death by improving data quality and timeliness, making data more readily available to partners through data use agreements for the request of case level LA-VDRS data, and creating data briefs and reports to inform violence prevention strategies.
BFH’s experience as the state leader and collaborative partner in mortality surveillance, translation of data to action, management of multi-million dollar federal grants, commitment of leadership to improving information supporting public health efforts, and experience with the past six years of NVDRS funding are the solid foundation for advancing the LA-VDRS program. Continued NVDRS funding will allow BFH to bring the necessary partners to the table, collect data on a complete picture of the circumstances surrounding violent deaths in Louisiana, and provide the information necessary to create effective programs and policies which will, in turn reduce violent death.