News > Doubts Re: Lawton Study Results

Ministry of Health Confirms Doubts about Lawton Study Results

20th October 2016

Ministry of Health Confirms Doubts about Lawton Study Results

Needs a “more robust” methodology and more recent data

Doubts raised about the reliability of results in the controversial study led by Beverley Lawton have led to the commissioning of a new study by the MOH. The New Zealand College of Midwives says they have just had this confirmed after the MoH was informed by reviewers that the conclusions in Lawton’s study, looking at care given by new graduate midwives, could not be clearly drawn from either the data used or the methodology, meaning they could not repeat the study to test the findings.

“Repeatability is an essential part of all scientific study as the ability to replicate the results provides confidence in the outcomes. Dr Pat Tuohy, chief advisor, Child and Youth Health for the Ministry has confirmed to us that they can’t do that with Bev Lawson’s study, it’s just not possible so they are doing a new study with new dataset,” says Karen Guilliland, the College Chief Executive.

Ms Guilliland says the reviewers of the study have essentially reinforced the concerns voiced last year when the study was released and the College disputed the methodology and study’s findings, questioned how old the dataset was and the misleading way in which Bev Lawton promoted the findings at the time. The Ministry then commissioned a review of the study, raising questions about the reliability of its outcomes.

“It is important to us as maternity specialists and health professionals that information about what we do and which is distributed as fact, can be held up as that. We all want healthy mothers and healthy babies and welcome the Ministry’s decision here and look forward to the results of the new study,” says Karen Guilliland.

Auckland DHB epidemiologist Lynn Sadler is leading the new study, the results of which are due to be published by the end of this year.


NZCOM contact: Ali Jones 027 247 3112


¹ A retrospective cohort study of the association between midwifery experience and perinatal mortality Beverley Lawton / Sara Filoche / Stacie E. Geller / Sue Garrett / James Stanley