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VHIN Introduction to health research in the IDI

VHIN He whakatakinga ki te rangahau hauora i te IDI

Registration for this course is currently on hold. It is likely to be deferred until 2022. For further information email

Thursday 4 February 2021

A Virtual Health Information Network (VHIN) course sponsored by the Better Start and Healthier Lives National Science Challenges

Are you considering using the IDI but aren’t sure where to begin? Are you interested in learning more about how theIDI can be used for health research?

This course will provide an overview of the IDI and discuss some of the opportunities and major issues around its use for health research. The course is taught by two experienced IDI users and there will be ample time for discussion, questions, and networking with other course participants.

The value of routine data and its potential usefulness to research has never been greater. The Stats New Zealand Integrated Data Infrastructure (IDI) leads the way internationally in this area. The IDI contains anonymised microdata about people and households from a range of government agencies, surveys, the 2013 Census, and non-government organisations. The number of health research projects in the IDI is rapidly expanding. The IDI can be a fantastic resource for health research, but successful IDI research requires a background of knowledge and contacts that is often not available to new users. This course aims to provide a base for IDI users to build this knowledge and contacts.

This course will introduce the IDI, provide practical tips about using the IDI, and share learnings from IDI projects, such as the Virtual Health Information Network (VHIN) catalyst projects, Healthier Lives and Better Start National Science Challenges, and a selection of other health research. Participants will get the opportunity to ask questions of the course convenors and a panel of established IDI users.

Dr Sheree Gibb and Dr Andrea Teng are co-convening the course.

Topics covered  

  • Overview of the IDI
  • How to get started in the IDI
  • The IDI structure, the spine, estimating a population and linkage rates
  • Role of the researcher and useful resources
  • Social license, ethics, and kaitiakitanga
  • Key information on ethnicity, address, income and health
  • Examples of IDI research
  • Panel question and answer session

Style of course

This course will comprise of multiple short presentations, practical examples and opportunities for discussion.

Who should attend?  

The course is aimed at novice IDI users. It will be of interest to researchers and analysts in government agencies or the health sector, academics, policy makers, health professionals and Masters and Doctoral Students. It will suit new IDI users, those who are considering using the IDI, and managers, supervisors and others who would like to understand more about IDI research. The course is presented from a health perspective but will be relevant to other sectors as well.

COVID-19 contingency plan

If COVID Alert Level restrictions prevent in-person/face-to-face delivery of this course, the course will be cancelled and the course fee will be refunded in full.

If the course is able to be delivered in person, but a participant cannot travel to Wellington due to COVID Alert Level restrictions, the course fee will be refunded in full.

Draft timetable

Time Content Presenter(s)
8:30am Registration  
9:00am 1. Introduction

  • What is the IDI?
  • IDI structure and spine
  • Record linking
Sheree Gibb
10:30am Morning tea  
11:00am 2. Research practicalities

  • What sort of questions can the IDI answer?
  • What is the role of researchers in the IDI community?
  • Resources available for IDI users
Andrea Teng
  • Maori data sovereignty
Andrew Sporle
University of Auckland
12:30pm Lunch break  
1:30pm 3. IDI in context

  • Statistics NZ- confidentiality and security, applications, output checking
  • Estimating a population
  • Where to find key information (ethnicity, location, income, health)
Andrea Teng
3:00pm Afternoon tea  
3:30pm 4. Examples of IDI health research

  • Q&A with expert panel of IDI users
Speakers TBC
5:00pm Finish  

Teaching staff  

  • Dr Sheree Gibb has a background in longitudinal social and health research. She has extensive experience with the IDI and has worked at universities and Statistics New Zealand.
  • Dr Andrea Teng is a Senior Research Fellow and Public Health Physician. She leads the Capitalising on Health Data project in the National Science Challenge Healthier Lives, using the IDI for non-communicable disease research. Andrea also leads the core infrastructure for the Virtual Health Information Network, contributing to a network of IDI users with the aim of improving research quality in the IDI.

Course cost and registration

$300 early bird, $400 after Tuesday 22 December 2020.

A 50% discount is available to full-time students, those unwaged and University of Otago staff.

Note COVID contingency plan above. Any questions please see FAQ page or email

A limited number of Māori and Pacific scholarships are available for this course. Please apply via the registration page. Please contact the convenors for further information.

Register now