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Data for: Psychological distress, anxiety, suicidality, and wellbeing in New Zealand during the COVID-19 lockdown: a cross-sectional study

Cite this dataset

Every-Palmer, Susanna et al. (2020). Data for: Psychological distress, anxiety, suicidality, and wellbeing in New Zealand during the COVID-19 lockdown: a cross-sectional study [Dataset]. Dryad.


Dataset for following paper.


New Zealand’s early response to the novel coronavirus pandemic included a strict lockdown which eliminated community transmission of COVID-19. However, this success was not without cost, both economic and social.  In our study, we examined the psychological wellbeing of New Zealanders during the COVID-19 lockdown when restrictions reduced social contact, limited recreation opportunities, and resulted in job losses and financial insecurity.


We conducted an online panel survey of a demographically representative sample of 2010 adult New Zealanders. The survey contained three standardised measures – the Kessler Psychological Distress Scale (K10), the GAD-7, and the Well-Being Index (WHO-5) – as well as questions designed specifically to measure family violence, suicidal ideation, and alcohol consumption. It also included items assessing positive aspects of the lockdown.


Thirty percent of respondents reported moderate to severe psychological distress (K10), 16% moderate to high levels of anxiety, and 39% low wellbeing; well above baseline measures. Poorer outcomes were seen among young people and those who had lost jobs or had less work, those with poor health status, and who had past diagnoses of mental illness. Suicidal ideation was reported by 6%, with 2% reporting making plans for suicide and 2% reporting suicide attempts. Suicidality was highest in those aged 18–34. Just under 10% of participants had directly experienced some form of family harm over the lockdown period. However, not all consequences of the lockdown were negative, with 64% reporting ‘silver linings’, which included enjoying working from home, spending more time with family, and a quieter, less polluted environment.


New Zealand’s lockdown successfully eliminated COVID-19 from the community, but our results show this achievement brought a significant psychological toll. Although much of the debate about lockdown measures has focused on their economic effects, our findings emphasise the need to pay equal attention to their effects on psychological wellbeing.


Methods of data collection are in the published paper (open-access). 


Respondents were survey participants from an internet Panel survey firm.

Data have been cleaned and processed: this was mostly simplifying/collapsing response options to fewer options for reporting.

Usage notes

For further details or analysis code for paper (R format) please contact

Data and data dictionaries are included in the uploaded files.

A total of n=2010 participants included (meeting eligibility criteria and substantively completed the survey)

Post-stratification survey weights are included (used to re-scale collected data to the NZ population structure): it is recommended that these are used in analyses (R, SAS, SPSS and Stata have mechanisms for applying survey weights).

Data were originally collected in Qualtrics; cleaned and coded in R; and analysed using R.

The "raw + clean" dataset provides both the original variables and the variables as analysed for the paper. Columns with names starting with "Q" are the original responses in the survey; columns marked

The "clean only" dataset provides just the variables analysed for the paper.

Some additional variables are available on request (with corresponding code) for data sensitivity (e.g. suicidality) or to reduce the complexity of the files (e.g. individual item responses on psychological scales). These are detailed below.

Sensitive data available only on request

Due to low response counts, data on self-harm thoughts and behaviours are not available in this public dataset but can be requested by contacting the team.

Additional raw data and code available on request

The following items are only presented in a summarised format: Original per-item responses can be requested by contacting the team. These have not been included for brevity.

Age in years (excluded for data confidentiality)

Age group (some people were only asked a "screening" question on age group for response quotas, others also provided age at end of survey)

Gender (some people were only asked a "screening" question on gender for response quotas, others also confirmed gender at end of survey)

Ethnicity (prioritised ethnicity included in file; original recorded ethnicity columns and free text fields available on request along with code for scoring)

K10/GAD-7/WHO-5 (scores and categorised variables included; original per-item responses available on request with code for scoring)

Alcohol intake before/during lockdown (summarised data included: original free-text columns and recoding step available on request with code for scoring)

Family harm questions (summarised data included; individual response items available on request)