The coronavirus disease (COVID-19) originated from Wuhan, China in 2019. The pandemic has had a significant impact on the world today. While the national 2020 lockdown in Aotearoa New Zealand (NZ) was successful from a disease containment perspective, its impact on the wellbeing of individuals must be explored. The aim of this study was to explore the quality of life (QoL) and wellbeing of New Zealanders during the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 using the online Meke Meter™ app. The Meke Meter™ is a subjective hauora (holistic health and wellbeing) self-assessment tool developed in consultation with indigenous communities. As part of the research, participants were also asked about the usefulness of the Meke Meter™ and whether they intended to continue using it.
A mixed-methods approach was employed and involved the collection of quantitative data using the Meke Meter™ and qualitative data collection from Meke Meter™ users through two online questionnaires and several focus groups (both online and face-to-face). The qualitative data was analysed for emergent themes and categories using a general inductive approach. To analyse the quantitative data, one-way analysis of variance (ANOVA) and general linear mixed-effects models (GLMMs) were used to explore associations, if any, between the demographic data, time intervals and the participant Meke Meter™ scores.
A total of 692 individuals completed the Meke Meter™ (81.8 percent female, 17.3 percent male; 62.4 percent Māori, 37.6 percent tauiwi/non-Māori). Seventy people completed the SurveyMonkey© questionnaires, and a total of 33 people participated in the focus groups.
The quantitative results showed that in general approximately three-quarters of the participants only filled in the Meke Meter™ once. Higher Meke Meter™ scores are desirable, and as age increased, so did the Meke Meter™ scores; females had lower scores than males, and Māori had higher scores than tauiwi/non-Māori for the Mental and Social domains. The thematic analysis identified key themes: whānau/family and friends, mental distress, exercise, kai/food, and work/income. The qualitative data revealed that COVID-19 had a range of impacts on the respondents. In some cases, it brought families closer together facilitated by technology while for others confinement, isolation, and financial insecurity caused distress. A dichotomy of responses regarding the impact of COVID-19 on exercise, diet and weight was evident, as were the responses about mental wellbeing with some respondents being happy and relaxed while other experienced increased stress and anxiety, and/or substance abuse. The qualitative data suggested that several factors may have contributed to lower Meke Meter™ scores for females, including increased workload, multiple household jobs, unstable relationships, and a decrease in exercise. Māori had higher scores than tauiwi/non-Māori for the Mental and Social domains, which was most likely related to cultural factors. The Meke Meter™ was better at engaging Māori and males than other online platforms recently used in NZ to collect convenience samples for research. Most people found the Meke Meter™ easy and useful, but they lacked the self-motivation to fill it out regularly. Accordingly, the most frequently suggested improvements to the online Meter Meter™ app included notifications.
The national 2020 COVID-19 lockdown negatively affected many New Zealanders’ physical, mental, social wellbeing thereby effecting their QoL. This study reports a broad range of negative impacts on people’s wellbeing and highlights the need for targeted, community-appropriate post-COVID-19 wellbeing interventions. A key recommendation from this study would be to ensure the achievability, accessibility, and affordability of physical activity during a lockdown and post-lockdown. Decreasing the digital divide and improving equity to ensure all households and communities have equal opportunities to digitally connect to work, study and/or socialise is also vital in the context of a pandemic. This study also highlights the importance of culturally appropriate tools and instruments built by indigenous people, for increasing a greater response from indigenous communities particularly for research purposes.||en_NZ