Evaluation and Behavioural Science

Information on the behavioural research completed by the Evaluation and Behavioural Science team within the Public Health Agency.

Behavioural science has been key to the COVID-19 response.

Throughout the pandemic, this research has assisted with identifying issues, testing solutions, providing a guide to actions to improve equity, and documented learnings that will improve pandemic preparedness in the future.

The Evaluation and Behavioural Science team worked in collaboration with teams across Manatū Hauora (the Ministry of Health) and across agencies to inform the COVID-19 response. This work has contributed by monitoring and understanding how personal beliefs, social context, and individual capability impact adherence to preventative and protective behaviours and what barriers hinder people from taking these actions. These actions include but are not limited to taking a COVID-19 test, self-isolation, vaccination, and wearing masks.

This research has continued to provide insights to inform actions and advice to overcome barriers arising throughout the COVID-19 response. The research projects and surveys were critical inputs into the public health risk assessments and other policies which were key to guiding the public health advice and operations behind the response.

On this page:

National and population survey reports

The Evaluation and Behavioural Science team conducted population surveys to better understand the knowledge, attitudes, and behaviours related to, and at, various stages of the COVID-19 pandemic. The topics of these surveys have been developed with different teams within the Ministry.

All surveys methodologies have some limitations. Please see below for an explanation of the methods.

The team commissioned Horizon Research to run the online surveys. Questions were asked only in English, and they were tested by independent reviewers for clarity and simplicity. This was to minimise misunderstanding of the questions and improve reliability of the results. Each survey aimed to gather at least 1,000 respondents. For some surveys, the sample was also boosted for Māori and Pacific peoples. In addition to the use of demographic quotas, during the analysis the results were adjusted (i.e., weighted) to closely match the New Zealand population characteristics. This was to achieve greater representativeness of the results. For additional information, each report has a section describing the methods used to collect and analyse the data.

Survey titles:

Project reports

Improving maritime border workers' adherence to the Required Testing Order (RTO)

November 2021 

The RTO was an important control measure for the COVID-19 response to minimise the risk of onward transmission into the community. This research was conducted to understand the barriers that individuals faced when trying to adhere to the RTO, and the findings were used to inform advice on how to increase uptake of testing in these communities.

Increasing adherence to Infection Prevention and Control (IPC) guidelines in Managed Isolation and Quarantine Facilities (MIQFs)

April 2022 

Understanding the barriers to adherence to IPC guidelines was important to avoid COVID-19 transmission in MIQF facilities. This project looked to assess knowledge, attitudes, practices and behaviours of infection, prevention and control measures for community members and returnees in the MIQF system. 

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