Frequently asked questions for participants in the NZHWR

 This page provides information for participants in the New Zealand Health, Work and Retirement study.  The 2021 wave of the study will be sent to participants in the second half of 2021.  If you cannot find the answer to your question here, please do not hesitate to contact us any time on our free-phone number 0800 100 134, or you can email a question to


What is the New Zealand Health, Work and Retirement Study?

The New Zealand Health, Work and Retirement Study (HWR) is a study of people aged 55 years and over who live in New Zealand. The study began in 2006 and is led by principle investigators Professor Christine Stephens and Professor Fiona Alpass from the School of Psychology.

The study aims to provide information on issues such as health, work, retirement and housing, which are relevant to people in this age group. This research provides New Zealand residents with the opportunity to share their experiences to help inform national and international discussions on these important issues.

Previous surveys have had a specific focus on caregiving, housing tenure and quality among the older New Zealand population, and how this facilitates social connections. The 2018 and 2020 surveys had a focus on the experiences of older people as they continue to participate in or leave paid employment.

 Participants in the HWR study usually receive a survey every two years.   This year however, we have secured funding from the Health, Research Council, to investigate how our participants’  lives may have been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.  As our existing participants have completed surveys in previous years, some dating back to 2006,  this provides a wealth of  historic information, so we are uniquely poised to gather data around your experiences and  use this data to investigate how your circumstances have changed.

To date, more than 14,000 New Zealand residents have responded to the survey. To gain greater insight into questions which are not well characterised by survey responses, interested participants are also sometimes invited to participate in face-to-face interviews or telephone interviews.

Why have I been contacted by the study?

People who have previously filled out a survey are re-surveyed to obtain valuable information regarding changes, or lack of change, in their circumstances over time.

What are my rights as a participant in this study?

If you decide to participate, you have the right to:

  • Decline to answer any particular question;
  • Ask any questions about the study or withdraw from the project at any time by calling the HART contact number (0800 100 134) or emailing the team at;
  • Know that the information will be kept strictly confidential and will be used only for health research;
  • Know that reports and publications from this study are based on de-identified information and will not identify any individual taking part.
  • Request a summary of the study findings

What do I do if I need a new survey booklet, information sheet, consent form or reply paid envelope?

Please fill out the online form here, and select the check boxes for the survey resources you would like to request.

I have received a postcard reminding me to complete the survey but I have already sent it in.

You do not need to do anything. We send out postcards to remind those who have not completed the survey to do so, and to thank participants who have returned their surveys.

I have moved house – how do I update my contact details?

Please fill out the online form here to update your contact details, or call our freephone any time: 0800 100 134.

National Health and ACC Data Linkage Project

What is the National health data linkage component of the NZHWR study?

If you are an existing participant, you will have been approached before to allow us to access your National health data.  For new participants in 2020, this is the linkage of national health record data, held on file by the New Zealand Health Information Service, to other data provided by study participants.  It provides valuable information for health research, such as number of hospital emergency room or GP clinic visits people make in a year.  The combined data allows us to answer many health-related questions that we could not answer with the survey data alone.

What is the ACC health data linkage component of the NZHWR study?

This is a new initiative for all participants from 2020, and relates to the linkage of data held by the Accident Compensation Corporation (ACC), to other data provided by study participants.  We will request any injury and related health data held by the ACC.

Existing participants can find more information about the Data Linkage project here, and new participants can find more information here. A consent form was included in the 2020 posting.

If you would like to allow us to access your health and/or ACC details, please request a consent form (online form here).

Will my data remain secure and confidential?

All information provided to researchers is completely confidential, and will be used only for the purposes of health research. It will not be possible to identify individuals in any dataset or report from the study. To ensure that national health record data remains confidential, a strong and confidential data-transference and merging process is used. You can rest assured that:

  • Once your national health and ACC records are identified and extracted by the relevant agency, they will replace your name with a unique ID number. Once this ID is in place the data cannot be linked to your name.
  • The de-identified national health and ACC records data will then be securely encrypted and sent via registered courier to the Health and Ageing Research Team (HART) at Massey University. The electronic key needed to unlock this encrypted dataset will be sent separately via secured email directly to the HART. Without this electronic key the encrypted data cannot be accessed.
  • Once the HART receives the national health record and ACC data and de-codes it with the electronic key, this data can be merged with other data provided by you to the study, using your unique ID number. This ensures that your name is always stored separately to your data and that both your survey responses, national health record and ACC data are unable to be linked to your name, except by the HART Research Officer as required for study administration.
  • The New Zealand Health Information Service and ACC will never have access to your data stored at Massey University.