Australian Unity Wellbeing Index (2002 to 2013)

History and overview

A guide to the Australian Unity Longitudinal Wellbeing Study (AUWLS)

The Australian Unity Longitudinal Wellbeing Study (AULWS) supplements the Australian Unity Wellbeing Index (AUWBI). At the end of the cross-sectional surveys, participants are asked whether they would like to participate in future surveys of a similar nature, though by pen and paper. If they oblige, their names and addresses are stored confidentially and they are assigned a unique identifying code number. Further surveys, referred to as AULWS surveys, are then mailed to willing participants and their return is tracked using that unique code. AULWS surveys allow for a more comprehensive set of questionnaire items to be included, on the basis that participants have indicated their readiness to be included in a study of this kind.

The AULWS began in 2002, when participants who had completed cross-sectional survey 5 were followed up with a 97-item pen and paper questionnaire. As the cross-sectional surveys continued with a new sample of 2000 participants each time, surveys of the AULWS were distributed approximately biannually to a dynamic subgroup of these participants. This subgroup comprises two smaller samples as: participants who completed a recent cross-sectional survey, and participants who had returned previous AULWS surveys. So, for example, the sample who completed the 18th survey of the AULWS in 2009 included participants recruited from cross-sectional survey 20 (conducted in March 2009), and participants who were recruited from earlier cross-sectional studies and continued to return completed AULWS questionnaires. Participants remain in the study until they fail to return an AULWS survey that is mailed to them, at which point they are not sent a subsequent questionnaire. Because of this method, participants have entered and exited the study at different times.


Each survey of the AULWS has included the Personal Wellbeing Index and the National Wellbeing Index, alongside other measures that are theoretically consistent with subjective wellbeing. Constructs including mood/affect, self-esteem, optimism, perceived control, depression, anxiety, stress, and personality have been measured in most of our AULWS surveys.

Accessing the data

The individual data files are available here. The data dictionary is a comprehensive guide to the questions included in each questionnaire as well as their response format. Please note that for some scales, the wording or response format may have changed over the surveys. This is reflected in the data dictionaries.

Using the data

The data may be used as individual surveys, though if you are comparing scores between different surveys in the AULWS, remember that some scores will have come from the same respondent. To use the data longitudinally, responses for the same participants can be identified using the 'longitud' variable in the datafile. This column contains the participants' unique response number, so participants with the same unique response numbers are assumed to be the same person. It is recommended that when merging files into a single database, cases are merged into a single row, grouped by their unique response number ('longitud' variable).

These data are available for public research or educational purposes, though we ask that you keep us informed of your findings by email. Commercial use is restricted.

Citing the AULWS

The recommended citation for use of the AULWS data, questionnaires, and data dictionaries is:

Cummins, R. A., & Weinberg, M. K. (2014). Australian Unity Longitudinal Wellbeing Study. Deakin University: Australian Centre on Quality of Life, Melbourne, Australia.


If you have any queries about the AUWLS, including the data or data dictionaries, please email and specify “Longitudinal datafile query” in the subject line.

Survey reports

Common data dictionary (xlsx 386 KB)