Research Study Data definitions


Prepared by the New Zealand Family Violence Clearinghouse
University of Auckland, June 2017

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These definitions relate to Data Summaries

Research study data definitions

An important note on interpreting the data

Population based surveys (such as the Violence Against Women survey) and cohort studies (such as the Dunedin and Christchurch longitudinal studies) ask participants about their experience of physical and/or sexual violence. The questions can be phrased differently from survey to survey or be asked of participants in different age groups. Combined with other differences in the methods of conducting the surveys, differences in the way questions are asked can lead to differing results. Participants also have the right to decline to answer a particular question or withdraw from the interview at any time.

The Health and Wellbeing of Secondary School Students
in New Zealand reports: Youth 2000, Youth’07 and Youth’12

The National Survey of the Health and Wellbeing of New Zealand secondary school students were conducted in 2001, 2007 and again in 2012. In 2001, 9,699 randomly selected Year 9-13 students from randomly selected schools participated in the questionnaire, while in 2007 and 2012, 9,107 and 8,497 students participated, respectively. The survey findings are representative of young people attending mainstream secondary schools, although not necessarily all young people in New Zealand. Between the 2001 survey and the 2007 some of the questions that the students were asked varied slightly. Those reported in the data summaries are considered comparable by the Adolescent Health Research Group.[1] The survey questions and response options for Youth’12 were built on those used in previous Youth 2000 surveys. Therefore, the majority of the survey questions included in the final Youth’12 are the same as, or very similar to, those used in 2001 and 2007.[2]

Exposure to sexual violence in previous 12 months:Please note that in the ‘Exposure to sexual violence in previous 12 months’ table, the possible answers that students could give to the question of ‘Ever been touched in a sexual way or made to do unwanted sexual things?’ changed between the 2001 and the 2007 surveys. In 2001 the students could respond: Never, one or two times, sometimes, often, maybe and not sure. In 2007 the students could respond: Yes, no, not sure, I don’t want to answer this question.[1]

New Zealand Violence Against Women Study

In 2003, a replication of the World Health Organization’s ‘Multi-Country Study on Women’s Health and Domestic Violence Against Women’ was carried out by researchers at the University of Auckland. A random sample of women aged between 18 and 64 years were interviewed face-to-face in the participant’s home. Of the participants, 1,436 lived in Auckland and 1,419 lived in north Waikato, a rural region of New Zealand. The age, ethnicity and rural/urban split of the study sample indicated that they were representative of the general population of New Zealand women aged 18-64 years.[3]

Sexual violence: In the study the term sexual violence meant the woman had: been physically forced to have sexual intercourse; had sexual intercourse because she was afraid of what her partner might do; been forced to do something sexual she found degrading or humiliating.[3]

Physical violence: In the study the term physical violence meant the woman had been: slapped, or had something thrown at her; pushed, shoved, or had her hair pulled; hit with a fist or something else that could hurt; kicked, dragged or beaten up; choked or burnt; threatened with or had a weapon used against her.[3]

Ever-partnered: Women were considered ‘ever-partnered’ if they had ever been married, ever lived with a man, or were currently with a regular male sexual partner.[3]

Dunedin Multidisciplinary Health and Development Research Study (DMHDS)

The ongoing DMHDS (also known as the Dunedin Study) is a longitudinal study of a birth cohort 1,037 children born in Dunedin in 1972/1973 that has been going for 40 years.[4] Cohort studies allow information on potential risk factors for a disease to be collected before the outcome is experienced, reducing the likelihood that study members will change their recall based on current health status.

Reports of CSA before aged 16 years: Please note that when female participants were asked if they encountered ‘some form of other abuse,’ there were two reports of oral sex.[5]

Christchurch Health and Development Study

Similar to the Dunedin Study, the Christchurch Health and Development Study (CHDS) is an ongoing longitudinal study that has followed the health, education and life progress of a group of 1,265 children born in the Christchurch urban region during mid 1977.[6][7]

The New Zealand Crime and Safety Survey (NZCASS)

The NZCASS provides a measure of the amount of crime in New Zealand by asking people directly about personal and household crimes they have experienced. The survey has been carried out three times: 2006, 2009, and 2014. Almost 7,000 people aged 15 years and over living in private households were randomly chosen to participate in each survey, including 1,187, 1,297, and 1,708 people were drawn from a Māori ‘booster’ sample in 2006, 2009, and 2014 respectively. People were interviewed face-to-face at home using laptop computers. In the interviewer-administered section, they were asked about their attitudes to and perceptions of crime, and whether they have experienced personal and household crimes. In the self-completion section, they were asked some more sensitive questions, such as the relationship of the offender to the victim and the nature of the crime. People directly entered the answers to these questions into the computer.[8]

The NZCASS provides estimates of violence interpersonal offences experienced by people who responded to the survey. Because the sample of people who participated in the survey have been selected to represent the whole New Zealand population, it is therefore assumed that these estimates are representative of experiences within the general population of New Zealand. Sampling error (which influences the accuracy of the estimates) comes about because the NZCASS surveyed a group of people, not the entire New Zealand population. As such, the results of the survey may differ from the results we would get if the entire New Zealand population had been included.

All NZCASS data was rerun in 2014 based on the new definitions. This means the 2014 definitions apply to all three survey years and the old definitions are no longer used. As such, the NZCASS data presented in 2016 data summaries are different from those presented in the previous years.

Violent interpersonal offences: Victim’s relationship to the offender[9]

Where a victim has contact with the offender or came to know who committed the violent interpersonal offence, they are asked: ‘What were their relationships to you at the time it happened? This information is used to group relationship types as follows:

Family: Intimate partners and/or family members.

Intimate partner: Husband, wife and partner (including boyfriend or girlfriend).

Other Family: Parent or step-parent; parent’s partner/boyfriend/girlfriend; son or daughter (including in-laws); sibling or step-sibling, other family including extended family.

Not family: People who are not family.

People known: Other household member (flatmate or boarder), work colleague, workmate, fellow student, paid caregiver, family friend, acquaintance, neighbour, employer, friend or other person known (excluding family members).

Sexual Offences

Sexual offences as violent interpersonal offences include forced sexual intercourse; attempted forced sexual intercourse; distressing sexual touching; and other sexual violence.

Ministry of Women’s Affairs Studies

Lightning Does Strike Twice[10]

The aim of this investigation was to establish a platform for identifying the policy and practice implications of sexual re-victimisation and other forms of gender-based violence. Available New Zealand literature was reviewed to describe the prevalence of sexual re-victimisation.

Attrition in the New Zealand criminal justice system[11]

The aim of this study was to describe attrition in the crimiustice system in relation to adult sexual violence. Understanding the rates of attrition and the reasons for attrition was considered an important first step towards improving policy and practice so that attrition is minimised and the outcomes for victims are improved.

The study was based on 1,955 police files coded as sexual violation of an adult victim for the period 1 July 2005 – 31 December 2007. The research was based on a summarised extract of police data, so did not contain the full depth and extent of information recorded in the original file.


[1] Clark, T. C., Robinson, E., Crengle, S., Grant, S., Galbreath, R. A., & Sykora, J. (2009). Youth’07: The Health and Wellbeing of Secondary School Students in New Zealand. Findings on Young People and Violence. Auckland: The University of Auckland. Retrieved 14 June 2016.

[2] Adolescent Health Research Group. (2013). The Health and Wellbeing of New Zealand Secondary School Students in 2012: Youth’12 prevalence tables. Auckland: The University of Auckland. Retrieved 14 June 2016.

[3] Fanslow, J., & Robinson, E. (2004). Violence against women in New Zealand: Prevalence and health consequences. The New Zealand Medical Journal, 117(1206). Retrieved 12 June 2017.

[4] Dunedin Multidisciplinary Health and Development Research Unit. (DMHDRU). (2013). Home Page.  Retrieved February 2013.

[5] Roode, T. V., Dickson, N., Herbison, P., & Paul, C. (2009). Child sexual abuse and persistence of risky sexual behaviors and negative sexual outcomes over adulthood: Findings from a birth cohort. Child Abuse & Neglect, 33,161-172.

[6] University of Otago. (2013). Christchurch Health & Development Study. Retrieved February 2013.

[7] Friesen, M. D., Woodward, L. J., Horwood, L. J., & Fergusson, D. M. (2010). Childhood exposure to sexual abuse and partnership outcomes at age 30. Psychological Medicine, 40, 679-688.

[8] Ministry of Justice. (2015). New Zealand Crime & Safety Survey: 2014 Technical Manual. Retrieved 12 June 2017.

[9] Ministry of Justice. (2016). New Zealand Crime & Safety Survey: Classifications and groupings. Retrieved 12 June 2017.

[10] Ministry of Women’s Affairs. (2012). Lightning does strike twice: Preventing sexual re-victimisation. Wellington: Ministry of Women’s Affairs. Retrieved 14 June 2016.

[11] Triggs, S., Mossman, E., Jordan, J., & Kingi, V. (2009). Responding to sexual violence: Attrition in the New Zealand criminal justice system. Wellington: Ministry of Women’s Affairs. Retrieved 14 June 2016.