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Broome et al. WORKSITE STRESS REDUCTION 235
Authors Info: J. Richard N. Broome, Box 87395, Houghton, 2041, Republic of SouthAfrica; +27 11 483 0685; fax +27 11 728 1280; email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Authors Notes: This paper summarizes the principal findings of a South African doctoraldissertation in Business Administration from the University of Cape Town (Broome,1995).
The authors wish to thank Kai Druhl for assistance with the discussion of phase transitionsin physical systems.
Transcendental Meditation, TM, Maharishi Vedic Science, and Maharishi University ofManagement are registered or common law trademarks licensed to Maharishi VedicEducation Development Corporation and used under sublicense or with permission.Journal of Social Behavior and Personality, 2005, 17, 235273.
2005 Select Press, Novato, CA, 415/209-9838.
Worksite Stress Reduction Through theTranscendental Meditation Program
J. Richard N. BroomeCIDA City Campus, Johannesburg
David W. Orme-JohnsonCenter for Natural Medicine and Prevention
Jane Schmidt-WilkMaharishi University of Management
An experiment on stress reduction using the Transcendental Meditation(TM) technique and Progressive Muscle Relaxation (PMR) was con-ducted at a South African firm with 80 employees. Psychological stressdecreased significantly over 5.5 months for the TM group (p < .0002)with 67% of the decrease in the first two weeks; for the PMR group(p < .03); and near significantly for on-site controls (p < .09). Six weeksof TM practice produced greater reductions in psychological stress thansix weeks of PMR (p < .03). Off-site active controls who receivedbusiness-skills training showed nonsignificant decreases. Posttest stresslevels were higher than for on-site groups (p < .04). Blood pressuredecreased at 5.5 months for systolic (p < .05) and diastolic (p < .04) forthe TM groups but not significantly in PMR or on-site controls. Subjec-tive reports and changes in company climate generally supported theresults, which are discussed in terms of the theory of collective con-sciousness from Maharishi Vedic Science.
Stress in organizations has been documented to produce wide rangingpsychological, physical and behavioral ill effects. The costs of stress arevariously estimated at hundreds of billions of dollars annually, or 12% ofU.S. GNP (Siu, Lu, & Cooper, 1999). The visible portion of these costs
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stems from compensation claims (Kottage, 1992), reduced productivityand increased absenteeism (Manuso, 1979), added health insurance costs(Mulcahy, 1991), and direct medical expenses for related diseases such asulcers, high blood pressure and heart attacks (Newman & Beehr, 1979).
In the physiology and management literature, job stress is usuallydefined as a characteristic of the individual, i.e., the psychophysiologicalchanges experienced as a consequence of job-related demands on theindividual. In this context, stressors are environmental or internal de-mands leading to adaptive (or maladaptive) responses on the part of theindividual. Stress management refers to the adaptive behavior of chang-ing any aspect of the environment or person in such a way as to decreasestress response (sometimes referred to as strain) and promote organi-zational and/or individual health.
Prevention-oriented programs emphasizing individual training instress management have been offered in over half of large U.S. organiza-tions (Kuri, 1996). However, until recently, few worksite programs hadbeen evaluated with any scientific rigor (Murphy, 1984, 1986; Newman& Beehr, 1979). Ivancevich, Matteson, Freedman, and Phillips (1990)observed that this situation persists for many practical reasons, includinglack of control over nuisance variables, difficulties with sampling andwith adequate controlsand the ongoing lack of a clear definition ofstress (Sderfeldt, Sderfeldt, Ohlson, Theorell, & Jones, 2000). Fur-thermore, rarely does an SMI (stress management intervention) pro-ceed from an identified theoretical position (Ivancevich et al., 1990).
Worksite Stress Management InterventionsAlthough many hundreds of laboratory/clinical studies have been
conducted on personal strategies for behavioral stress reduction, thenumber of worksite stress management interventions is much smaller. Asearch conducted in 1985 spanning two countries at eight major libraries,including the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C. and including theMEDLARS, PSYCHINFO, and psycLIT databases located many hun-dreds of clinical studies but only 22 worksite stress management inter-vention studies. Murphy (1996) reports 31 worksite stress studies.
Clinical studies reveal a wide variety of stress management tech-niques including various forms of relaxation, cognitive/behavioral skillstraining, meditation and biofeedback. Clinical research also indicatesthat different techniques produce different effects (Davidson & Schwartz,1976; Lehrer, Carr, Sargunaraj, & Woolfolk, 1994; Orme-Johnson &Walton, 1998). Among worksite applications, relaxation and meditationapproaches predominate, with Progressive Muscle Relaxation (PMR) asthe most frequently mentioned specific relaxation technique and the
Broome et al. WORKSITE STRESS REDUCTION 237
Transcendental Meditation (TM) technique as the most frequently men-tioned specific meditation technique.
Progressive Muscle Relaxation. PMR, as developed and described byJacobson (1957), involves focusing ones attention on muscle activitylevels in order to release muscular tension. Worksite applications for PMRinterventions report reduced blood pressure and reduced breath and heartrates (Throll, 1982). These findings are, however, obscured by differentresearchers using different adaptations or variations of classical PMR.
The Transcendental Meditation technique. Instruction in the Tran-scendental Meditation technique is given worldwide in a standardizedmanner by qualified instructors, using traditional training formats. Theinstruction is simple, straightforward and easily assimilated by staff ofdiverse cultural backgrounds. This standardization has allowed genera-tion of a voluminous body of literature (Orme-Johnson & Farrow, 1977;Chalmers, Clements et al., 1989; Wallace, Orme-Johnson et al., 1990),the largest on any meditation or relaxation technique (Murphy & Donovan,1996). Clinical research reports a wide range of stress reduction find-ings, including reduced blood pressure (Barnes, Schneider, Alexander &Staggers, 1997; Alexander et al., 1996; Schneider et al., 1995) andreduced breath and heart rates (Dillbeck & Orme-Johnson, 1987; Jevning,Wallace, & Beidebach, 1992).
Meta-analyses comparing the effect sizes of the TM technique withother forms of meditation and relaxation found that the TM techniqueproduces (a) a psychophysiologically unique state of restful alertnessthat is not achieved during ordinary eyes-closed rest (Dillbeck & Orme-Johnson, 1987), (b) greater reduction in trait anxiety (Eppley, Abrams, &Shear, 1989) and (c) greater improvement in psychological health(Alexander, Rainforth, & Gelderloos, 1991) than any other meditation orrelaxation technique studied to date, plus (d) a significantly largerdecrease in substance abuse (cigarettes, alcohol, and drugs) than pro-duced by relaxation, prevention or other treatment programs (Alexander,Robinson, & Rainforth, 1994).
Findings on the TM technique relevant to organizational perfor-mance include improved cognitive performance (see Orme-Johnson,Alexander, & Hawkins, 2005, for a recent summary of studies), in-creased self-esteem (Orme-Johnson & Dillbeck, 1987) and higher levelsof self-actualization and development (Alexander et al., 1991; Alexander,Heaton, & Chandler, 1994) associated with more effective managerialperformance (Torbert, 1987).
Studies on the TM technique as a worksite stress managementintervention span three decades (Schmidt-Wilk, Alexander, & Swanson,1996). Although the early retrospective research was criticized for
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methodological weaknesses (Pelletier & Lutz, 1989), later studiesperformed more-or-less simultaneously and independently of this studyand reported after its completionwere more rigorous. For example, astudy of 768 industrial workers (N = 447, 321 controls) conducted by theJapanese National Institute of Industrial Health found significant de-creases on measures of psychological distress, health complaints, insom-nia and smoking following instruction in the TM program compared tocontrols (Haratani & Henmi, 1990a, 1990b).
Two subsequent studies supplemented self-reported psychologicaldata with objective physiological measurements and extended theirinvestigations to performance and productivity concerns of the businesscommunity. These controlled worksite studies indicate that the psycho-physiological changes brought about through practice of the TM tech-nique result in (a) significantly decreased trait anxiety, job tension,insomnia, fatigue, cigarette and hard liquor use, and health complaints,and enhanced employee effectiveness, job satisfaction, and work andpersonal relationships (Alexander et al., 1993);1 and (b) reduced per-ceived stress, somatic symptoms of stress, and blood cholesterol levels;and improved mental health, vitality, energy, health habits, and peer-rated assessments of organizational contribution (DeArmond, 1996).
The TM program has a well-developed theory base, articulated inthe Vedic Science of Maharishi Mahesh Yogi (Alexander et al., 1990;Dillbeck, 1983a,b; Dillbeck & Alexander, 1989; Maharishi MaheshYogi, 1969; Orme-Johnson, Zimmerman, & Hawkins, 1997).
Previous case studies suggest that large proporti