The University of Auckland
Private Bag 92019
T +64 9 373 7599
PI: Prof. Elizabeth Broadbent
Department of Psychological Medicine
Recruitment has now closed.
For existing UK participants information on the UK study can be found here
Participant information for the Covid-19 Stress and Health Study New Zealand.
You are being invited to take part in our research project. This study is being conducted in collaboration with the University of Nottingham and King’s College London. Before you decide we would like you understand why this research is being done and what it would involve.
What is this project about and what will it involve?
We want to understand how the COVID-19 pandemic is affecting the physical and mental health of people in Aotearoa/New Zealand. This will involve:
(1) Completing a short online survey (about 15 minutes long) and
(2) Collecting and storing a small sample of your hair (optional)
You will be asked to do the survey 3 times: today, 12 weeks later and again when the NZ government changes its social distancing measures. You will be asked to take hair samples when you complete the first and second survey. The surveys will help us examine how the pandemic is affecting your emotional health.
Providing hair samples is optional. Hair samples will allow us to measure the hormone cortisol. This hormone changes when we are stressed and it can affect how other parts of our body, such as our immune system, work. The process for collecting and storing your hair sample is simple and painless and we will give you full instructions on how to do this.
Providing these hair samples will allow us to explore whether any stress you experience today and in the coming weeks could affect your health in the future. We will be seeking funding to measure cortisol in these samples at the end of the study. The samples will be sent to Europe for analysis. During analysis, the samples are ground into a powder and the remainder will be destroyed. This means they cannot be returned to you. If we cannot obtain funding, the hair samples will either be returned or disposed of, after 7 years.
Who can take part?
Anyone can take part as long as you are:
Aged 18 years or older
Able to read English well enough to complete the survey
Currently residing in New Zealand
Able to confirm you have understood what the study is about and agree to being involved
Your participation is voluntary. You may withdraw at any point. However, the information you have already provided will continue to be used in the analysis.
Once you consent to the study a unique ID will be generated which will be used to keep all your information anonymous. We will use this to link your survey responses to your hair samples.
The information you provide will be stored anonymously by the University of Auckland for 7 years after the end of the research. No information that could personally identify you will be used in any reports on this study. Your data will be stored in password-protected files and may be used in academic publications. Your IP address will not be stored.
Responsible members of the University of Auckland, the University of Nottingham and funders may also be given access to data for monitoring and/or audit of the study to ensure we are complying with guidelines, or as otherwise required by law.
We will also ask you for an email address so that we can contact you for the follow-up surveys. However, this email address will be removed from the rest of the answers you give before any analysis takes place and will be deleted as soon as the study finishes. If you would like to receive a summary of the results, we can send it to this email address. Your email address will not be passed to any third parties.
What will happen to any samples I give?
Your hair sample will be taken and stored by yourself. We will provide you with instructions on how to do this. You will receive instructions on how to send the samples to us at a later date. You may consider your hair as tapu (sacred) and may want to consult your whānau (family) or Kaumātua (respected elder) as to whether you would like to send your hair samples to us. Once we receive your samples, the study team will store them securely until they are analysed. Your samples will be anonymous (labelled only with your unique ID) and you will not be identified in any way. They will only be used for this study and not for any other research.
Benefits and risks
The findings will be used to help us understand the impact of the pandemic on the emotional and physical health of the NZ population and what we need to do to support people. We anticipate no risks to participants and reassure you that obtaining hair samples is painless.
In the unlikely event of a physical injury as a result of your participation in this study, you may be covered by ACC under the Injury Prevention, Rehabilitation, and Compensation Act 2001. ACC cover is not automatic, and your case will need to be assessed by ACC according to the provisions of the Injury Prevention, Rehabilitation, and Compensation Act 2001. If your claim is accepted by ACC, you still might not get any compensation. This depends on a number of factors, such as whether you are an earner or non-earner. ACC usually provides only partial reimbursement of costs and expenses, and there may be no lump sum compensation payable. There is no cover for mental injury unless it is a result of physical injury. If you have ACC cover, generally this will affect your right to sue the investigators.
If you have any questions about ACC, contact your nearest ACC office or the investigator.
If you have any concerns about the study, you can contact the principal investigator at
If you require Māori cultural support, please speak with your whānau in the first instance. Alternatively, you may contact the administrator for He Kamaka Waiora (Māori Health Team) by telephoning 09 486 8324 ext 2324.
If you have any questions or complaints about the study, you may contact the Auckland and Waitematā District Health Boards Māori Research Committee or Māori Research Advisor by phoning 09 486 8920 ext 3204.
For concerns of an ethical nature, you can contact the Chair of the Auckland Health Research Ethics Committee at or at 373 7599 ext 83711, or at Auckland Health Research Ethics Committee, The University of Auckland, Private Bag 92019, Auckland 1142.
Approved by the Auckland Health Research Ethics Committee on 05/05/2020 for three years. Reference number AH1326.