A second letter to MANA Stats Project Contributors

Hello again MANA Stats Contributors, 

I am writing to follow up on the letter several of us emailed to you all in October 2020. In that we asked  you all to take a short survey asking your thoughts about beginning to explore a possible transition of  MANA Stats to being housed and supported by a University. 

I am happy to report that 412 of you took the survey! Thank you so much for this, and here are the  results: 

Question 1: Would you support exploration to find a possible new institutional home for  MANA Stats within a university? 

Yes, explore the possibility of a new home within a university: 404 (98%) 

No, keep it within MANA: 8 

Question 2: If a good option were to be found, and with your full understanding of what that option would look like if agreed to, would you then seriously consider giving your formal consent for your existing data to be used for research purposes under this new institutional home (with full IRB oversight and all safeguards required by accepted research ethics)? 

Yes: 405 (98%) 

No: 7 

Question 3: Under a new institutional home, would you seriously consider continuing to  contribute to the Stats Project, which would allow you to continue to contribute to high-quality research, as well as continuing to use the system to keep your own individual and practice statistics up-to-date as is now afforded by MANA Stats? 

Yes: 384 (93%) 

No: 28 (with explanations by a number of respondents that they were no longer practicing so  this did not apply to their situation) 

I communicated these results to the MANA Board, through several emails with the Board and with the  Board’s lawyer. A portion of one of those emails to the Board is below: 

There is clearly overwhelming support from the midwives who contributed the data for a  move of MANA Stats to an institution that had the resources to support it; the academic  prowess to manage it; an associated Institutional Review Board; and the perception of lack of  bias among the public, the research community and policy makers. I look forward to working  with the Board to explore opportunities. 

I am currently hopeful that, while a transition to a University is not being explored to my knowledge, the  MANA Board is working toward renewed funding and support for the project. The Board and President Sarita  Bennett have begun working with Dr. Amanda Cleveland Teye, Associate Professor in the Department of Political Science at James Madison University in Virginia. Dr. Teye’s husband, Fred Teye, is a programmer, and together they have been working with the Board and with myself to develop a plan to take on the software support and data collection support for MANA Stats. Dr. Teye, after conversations with the Board and myself, listed several key principles which the Board has agreed to – this is very helpful in rebuilding a working relationship with the current Board. Among those agreed-on principles are: 

1) Prioritize midwife contributors through the process of transition and beyond. For example,  we all understand loss of data in individualized portals will undermine trust in MANA and may  cause harm to some midwives who rely upon direct access to their data and statistics to serve  their practice. Therefore, transition will prioritize a full import that retains user and account  

information. MANA will also prioritize database security, maintain and reinforce confidentiality  protocol, and work to ensure confidence in the protection of user identifying information.  

2) Preserve the research integrity instilled in the MANA Stats project. We all recognize that the  current structure of the SQL database, rules for validation, data verification, and the current  birth form (4.0) version represent nearly 20 years of valued practitioner and research expertise  and countless hours of refinement. We will work to retain the research integrity of this project  in all ways possible by carrying over key components embedded in the current software to any  new software adopted.  

I have begun giving tours of the MANA Stats software to both Amanda and Fred, and next on our  timeline will be for Eric and myself to pass on the information (e.g. passwords) required to access the  software and the database. 

Historically neither the MANA Board, nor even the researchers on the DOR, have been able to directly  access the database. We have always had two “sides” on the DOR team: One side included people like  Eric and Ellen Harris-Braun and myself who wrote software and managed the data collection. The other  side included people like Missy Cheyney (former DOR Chair and Director of Research) and Marit Bovbjerg (former DOR Director of Data Quality) who were given the data annually or as needed for  research studies, and who did their own studies and managed applications from other researchers to do  studies. The MANA Board meanwhile represented the midwives, overseeing the whole process. 

I am seeing Amanda and Fred as taking on the role of the data collection and software side, and from  our conversations I feel that they would be good for it, and hold the values of protecting the integrity of  data for midwives’ own continuity of your stats and for eventually resuming research access. The Teyes  have said they are not themselves interested in doing studies; the research side of the team would  presumably need to be rebuilt in order to resume research access. The Board is looking for funding for  this transition. 

In short then, I am hopeful that we are moving into what could be a renewal of this amazing project. I  hope this update gives you all hope as well. I’d encourage all of you, having expressed your continuing  commitment to it, to keep following its progress, and to communicate with the Board as it proceeds. 

I cannot say enough how thankful I am to have been able to co-create MANA Stats with so many  passionate and brilliant people, including each and every one of you, the contributors, who have put  your time, your data, and your trust into MANA and the DOR. Thank you.

 

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