Provisional monthly results on COVID-19 impacts: 2020/21 New Zealand Health Survey

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The 2020/21 NZHS included questions to monitor how New Zealanders are being impacted by COVID-19. Many of these questions were previously included in the Ministry of Health’s COVID-19 Health and Wellbeing Survey.

Provisional monthly results will be released for selected indicators from the 2020/21 NZHS. These monthly results will cover:

  • health status and mental health
  • health behaviours to prevent COVID-19
  • information received about COVID-19
  • worries about COVID-19.

The results will be used to understand what additional support and information New Zealanders require around COVID-19.

Key findings

Key findings for January 2021 (for adults aged 15 years and above) were as follows.

Health status and mental health

  • 87.9 percent reported that their health is good, very good, or excellent.
  • 8 percent experienced high or very high levels of psychological distress.
  • 10.1 percent felt lonely some, most or all of the time.

Health behaviours to prevent COVID-19

  • 27.5 percent recorded the places they’ve been and who they were with (eg, in a diary or app) every time. This has decreased from 45.6 percent in September 2020.
  • 73 percent covered their mouth and nose with a tissue, their sleeve or elbow every time they’d coughed or sneezed.
  • 42.5 percent washed their hands for at least 20 seconds with water and soap and dried them (or used hand sanitiser) every time after touching surfaces outside of the home.
  • 53.1 percent washed their hands for at least 20 seconds with water and soap and dried them (or used hand sanitiser) every time before eating or handling food.

Information received about COVID-19

  • 91.9 percent agreed or strongly agreed that they have good information about COVID-19.
  • 94.5 percent agreed or strongly agreed that they can get information about COVID-19 in words they understand.
  • 50.1 percent were slightly or very worried about the information about COVID-19 coming from their main information source in the past 7 days (among those who have sought COVID-19 information). This is higher than the December 2020 result of 36.5%.

Worries about COVID-19

  • 46.5 percent were strongly or somewhat worried about the health of their family members.
  • 24.9 percent were strongly or somewhat worried about the risk of getting COVID-19.
  • 7.9 percent were strongly or somewhat stressed about leaving home.
  • 9 percent agreed or strongly agreed that their household has struggled to pay for basic living costs such as food or accommodation.

The 2020/21 NZHS also asks about face mask use on public transport. However, a very low number of respondents had been on public transport while required to wear a mask in the last 7 days. Of the 19 respondents who had done so in January 2021, approximately 85 percent always wore a mask when on public transport in the last 7 days, and this rate has been relatively stable since September 2020.

Data can also be downloaded as a .csv file.

Survey details

The surveying for the 2020/21 NZHS started on 4 September 2020. Fieldwork started later in the year than usual as the NZHS was suspended from March 2020 because of COVID-19.

Data is collected nationwide by a specialist survey provider, CBG Health Research Limited (CBG). Face-to-face interviews are conducted in the homes of respondents by CBG interviewers. Over 13,000 adults and the parents or primary caregivers of over 4,000 children take part in the survey each year.

The survey methodology for 2020/21 has remained the same as in previous years. The 2020/21 Methodology Report and Content Guide will be published in November 2021. Further details about the NZHS methodology are available in Methodology Report 2019/20: New Zealand Health Survey.

Further details about the survey questions are available in the 2020/21 NZHS Adult Questionnaire (Word, 800 KB).


The NZHS has a multi-stage sampling design that involves randomly selecting a sample of small geographic areas, households within the selected areas, and individuals within the selected households. One adult aged 15 years or older and one child aged 14 years or younger (if any in the household) were chosen at random from each selected household.

Survey respondents are selected from the 'usually resident' population of all ages living in private dwellings, aged-care facilities and student accommodation (99% of the eligible population). For practical reasons, the survey did not include: people living in institutions (such as long-term hospital care, hospital- and dementia-level care in aged-care facilities and prisons), the homeless, short-term visitors and tourists.

Further details are available in Sample Design from 2015/16: New Zealand Health Survey.


The NZHS data will be analysed each month. Provisional results for selected indicators will be provided for each month of the 2020/21 NZHS since it began in September 2020. Results from the NZHS are usually released annually, but to support the need for regular data relating to COVID-19, the Ministry will release provisional monthly results. Note that the sample size for each month is quite small so caution should be used when exploring any changes between months. The results have been weighted to be representative of the New Zealand adult population, using census data on distributions of ethnicity, age, sex and neighbourhood deprivation.

The monthly results are provisional and should be used with caution. To enable sharing of timely and relevant information, the data cleaning and quality assurance processes have not yet been fully completed. These results may therefore need to be revised in the future.

The data presented includes the prevalence estimate for the indicator, the upper and lower 95% confidence interval of the estimate, and the number of people who answered each question each month. Wider confidence intervals indicate more uncertainty in the statistics than narrow intervals, usually because of more variation between people or smaller sample sizes. When confidence intervals for two statistics don't overlap, there is a statistically significant difference between them. However, overlapping confidence intervals do not always mean that the difference is not significant. Due to the small numbers of people being surveyed each month, sometimes even large differences won't be statistically significant.


If you have any queries about the NZHS, please email [email protected].

Please also email us if you have any feedback about how useful these provisional monthly results are or any suggestions for improvements.

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