Prof Betty Kirkwood

Prof of Epidem & International Health

United Kingdom

Betty is an epidemiologist with a statistical background. Her research is driven by a desire to improve the health of young children in low and middle-income countries, and to increase access to known effective interventions. It is focussed on informing priority policy issues through tackling gaps in evidence to enable effective decision making for maternal, newborn and child health and nutrition policies and programmes. She has made major contributions in the following areas: (i) Cluster randomised controlled trials evaluating the delivery through community-based workers of key known effective interventions for (a) newborn and child survival, and (b) early child development and growth; (ii) Definitive trials evaluating vitamin A supplementation strategies; (iii) Evaluating key maternal, newborn and child health interventions (including breastfeeding, access to facility births, water supply and sanitation) (iv) Increasing access to treatments for common mental disorders; (v) Understanding the epidemiology of childhood diarrhoea and pneumonia. My substantive research has been accompanied by a commitment to translating research findings into health policy and programme action, to teaching, to research capacity strengthening, and to making complex epidemiological and statistical methods accessible to public health researchers and policy makers. The latter is exemplified by the success of the “Essential Medical Statistics” textbook she first wrote in 1988, which is widely used and continues to receive accolades for the clarity in which it presents methods using a practical framework, while maintaining statistical integrity.


Department of Population Health
Faculty of Epidemiology and Population Health


Centre for Evaluation
Centre for Maternal Adolescent Reproductive & Child Health


Module Organiser, Epidemiology in Practice, Core module term 1 for Epidemiology & Veterinary Epidemiology students.

PhD supervision
Current - 2 students.
Completed 17 students - 5 of whom were awarded prizes: 3 LSHTM Woodruff Medal for best thesis in tropical medicine; 2 Cicely Williams Prize for an outstanding research student completing a doctoral thesis, on a topic which advances the health of vulnerable populations

Essential Medical Statistics Textbook (Kirkwood & Sterne)


Increasing access to key known effective maternal, newborn or child health interventions and child development outcomes.

Inequalities in maternal, newborn & child health, and the role of early child adversity in early child development, including an interest in early child care in urban slums.

Selected Publications

Who actually cares for children in slums? Why we need to think, and do, more about paid childcare in urbanizing sub-Saharan Africa.
HUGHES, RC; Kitsao-Wekulo, P; Muendo, R; Bhopal, SS; Kimani-Murage, E; Hill, Z; KIRKWOOD, BR;
Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences
Nairobi Early Childcare in Slums (NECS) Study Protocol: a mixed-methods exploration of paid early childcare in Mukuru slum, Nairobi.
HUGHES, RC; Kitsao-Wekulo, P; Bhopal, S; Kimani-Murage, EW; Hill, Z; KIRKWOOD, BR;
BMJ paediatrics open
Does facility birth reduce maternal and perinatal mortality in Brong Ahafo, Ghana? A secondary analysis using data on 119 244 pregnancies from two cluster-randomised controlled trials.
Gabrysch, S; Nesbitt, RC; Schoeps, A; Hurt, L; SOREMEKUN, S; Edmond, K; MANU, A; Lohela, TJ; Danso, S; TOMLIN, K; KIRKWOOD, B; CAMPBELL, OM R;
The Lancet Global Health
Impact of adversity on early childhood growth & development in rural India: Findings from the early life stress sub-study of the SPRING cluster randomised controlled trial (SPRING-ELS).
Bhopal, S; ROY, R; Verma, D; KUMAR, D; Avan, B; Khan, B; Gram, L; Sharma, K; Amenga-Etego, S; Panchal, SN; SOREMEKUN, S; Divan, G; KIRKWOOD, BR;
PloS one
Counselling for Alcohol Problems (CAP), a lay counsellor-delivered brief psychological treatment for harmful drinking in men, in primary care in India: a randomised controlled trial.
NADKARNI, A; WEOBONG, B; WEISS, HA; McCambridge, J; Bhat, B; Katti, B; Murthy, P; King, M; McDaid, D; Park, A-L; Wilson, GT; KIRKWOOD, B; Fairburn, CG; Velleman, R; PATEL, V;
The Healthy Activity Program (HAP), a lay counsellor-delivered brief psychological treatment for severe depression, in primary care in India: a randomised controlled trial.
PATEL, V; WEOBONG, B; WEISS, HA; Anand, A; Bhat, B; Katti, B; Dimidjian, S; ARAYA, R; Hollon, SD; King, M; Vijayakumar, L; Park, A-L; McDaid, D; Wilson, T; Velleman, R; KIRKWOOD, BR; Fairburn, CG;
Increasing access to care for sick newborns: evidence from the Ghana Newhints cluster-randomised controlled trial.
MANU, A; Hill, Z; Ten Asbroek, AH; SOREMEKUN, S; Weobong, B; Gyan, T; Tawiah-Agyemang, C; Danso, S; Amenga-Etego, S; OWUSU-AGYEI, S; KIRKWOOD, BR;
BMJ open
Association between probable postnatal depression and increased infant mortality and morbidity: findings from the DON population-based cohort study in rural Ghana.
BMJ open
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