The ASEAN Journal of Education ASEAN Journal of Education

A Preliminary Mixed Methods Study of Health-Related Quality-of-Life at Three Regional Universities in Cambodia


Lee Fergusson*, Anna Bonshek, Stuart Vernon, Phon Pheuy, Mok Samen, Srey Vanthorn,


Abstract

Abstract The range of outcomes and published record on the Transcendental Meditation technique across 50 years of research in education, business, and government makes its application unique. Its association with health and relation to an individual’s quality-of-life have also made the technique useful in some developing countries. Data related to application of the technique to higher education in Cambodia have been accruing since the early 1990s. The 26-year research program begun by these authors associated with Transcendental Meditation and non-verbal intelligence, post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety, depression, learning, memory, and personality in university students, as well as its collective effects on economic and social indicators and reductions in socio-political violence and crime, makes for an uncommonly rich body of knowledge in a country where empirical research has been rare. The present study extends that program to include an investigation of the practice of Transcendental Meditation by faculty in three regional Cambodian universities and examines its impact on health-related quality-of-life. Findings generated by a concurrent, quasi-experimental mixed methods design suggest the practice may be of benefit to university personnel as measured by health, self-esteem, anxiety, and depression, among other quality-of-life variables, thereby adding to previous results associated with higher education in this increasingly important south-east Asian nation. Affirmative quantitative and qualitative results derived from MANOVAs, Hedges’ effect sizes and semi-structured interviews related to ten quality-of-life indicators have been reported. Keywords: Cambodia, Transcendental Meditation, health, quality-of-life, university faculty

Abstract
The range of outcomes and published record on the Transcendental Meditation technique across 50 years of research in education, business, and government makes its application unique. Its association with health and relation to an individual’s quality-of-life have also made the technique useful in some developing countries.
Data related to application of the technique to higher education in Cambodia have been accruing since the early 1990s. The 26-year research program begun by these authors associated with Transcendental Meditation and non-verbal intelligence, post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety, depression, learning, memory, and personality in university students, as well as its collective effects on economic and social indicators and reductions in socio-political violence and crime, makes for an uncommonly rich body of knowledge in a country where empirical research has been rare.
The present study extends that program to include an investigation of the practice of Transcendental Meditation by faculty in three regional Cambodian universities and examines its impact on health-related quality-of-life. Findings generated by a concurrent, quasi-experimental mixed methods design suggest the practice may be of benefit to university personnel as measured by health, self-esteem, anxiety, and depression, among other quality-of-life variables, thereby adding to previous results associated with higher education in this increasingly important south-east Asian nation. Affirmative quantitative and qualitative results derived from MANOVAs, Hedges’ effect sizes and semi-structured interviews related to ten quality-of-life indicators have been reported.
Keywords: Cambodia, Transcendental Meditation, health, quality-of-life, university faculty

Introduction

Practice of the Transcendental Meditation technique by students, faculty and staff of colleges and universities has been a feature of the global higher education landscape since the 1970s (e.g., Beaufort, Bonshek, & Fergusson, 1997; Dillbeck, Aron, & Dillbeck, 1979; Jones & Akura, 2017). Indeed, the practice was introduced to Cambodian higher education and society in the early 1990s (Fergusson & Bonshek, 2013, 2017). For example, in January 1993 550+ undergraduate students learned Transcendental Meditation during their inaugural year at Maharishi Vedic University (MVU), with several thousand more learning the practice in subsequent academic years along with hundreds more learning the advanced Transcendental Meditation-Sidhi program (Fergusson & Bonshek, 2017).
As part of that initiative to help reinvigorate Cambodia’s higher education and healthcare sectors, officials and ministers of the Cambodian People’s Party of the State of Cambodia learned the practice along with 300,000 people over a six-month period benefiting from Ayurvedic medical consultations provided free-of-charge to Phnom Penh residents during 1991-1992 (Australian Aid for Cambodia Fund, 1993, p. 2). In addition, personnel of all ranks in the United Nations Transitional Authority of Cambodia (UNTAC) during 1992 and 1993, and a number of foreign ambassadors to Cambodia, also learned the practice as an integral part of a larger-scale peace effort.


Key words: Cambodia, Transcendental Meditation, health, quality-of-life, university faculty
     
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