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Frequently asked questions for participants in the NZHWR

This page provides information for participants in the New Zealand Health, Work and Retirement study. The 2018 Health, Work and Retirement survey is now closed and will reopen in 2020. If you cannot find the answer to your question here please do not hesitate to contact us on free-phone number 0800 100 134 or you can email a question to hart@massey.ac.nz.


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 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.

The 2016 survey had a focus on housing tenure and quality among the older New Zealand population and how this facilitates social connections, while the 2018 and 2020 surveys have a focus on the experiences of older people as they continue to participate in or leave paid employment.

Every two years, participants are re-surveyed, and additional people are randomly selected from the electoral roll to be surveyed. To date, more than 8,000 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 at times invited to participate in face-to-face interviews.

Why have I been contacted by the study?

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

If you have not filled out a survey before, you are part of a new random-sample of approximately 3,500 persons aged 55-57, drawn from the New Zealand electoral roll, who have been invited to take part in the study for the first time this year. Approaching new participants ensures that the study retains representation of the views of persons aged 55+ as the existing participants age, and ensures that the study obtains a good representation of the range of circumstances experienced by all older people in New Zealand.

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 hart@massey.ac.nz;
  • 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 checkboxes 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 don’t need to do anything. We send out postcards to remind those who have not completed the survey to do so, but also to thank participants who have returned their surveys.

I’ve moved house – how do I update my contact details?

Please fill out the online form here to update your contact details.

National Health Data Linkage Project

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

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. You can find more information about the Data Linkage project 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 records are identified and extracted by the New Zealand Health Information Service, 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 record 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 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 and national health record 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 will never have access to your data stored at Massey University.

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