Our Research

We believe research is about being curious; having an open mind; asking questions; and looking for answers and solutions to real world problems. All staff and students at the University of Puthisastra are encouraged to be ‘researchers.’

At the University of Puthisastra, we are committed to high quality research to inform evidence-based teaching and practice that will contribute to the health and well-being of Cambodian people. Research at the University of Puthisastra is aligned with national and global health strategies including the 2015 – 2030 Sustainable Development Goals. Our approach to research is interdisciplinary, working closely with stakeholders, national and international organizations to undertake translational research relevant to local, national and global contexts.

The University of Puthisastra supports mentoring programs for emerging researchers working at UP and promotes ongoing professional development for all staff and supervisors to ensure they have a broad range of skills such as research design (quantitative, qualitative and mixed methods); innovative methods in data collection; ethical review preparation; evidence-based practice and supervision of undergraduate and postgraduate students. Students at the University of Puthisastra can be involved in a diverse range of research projects that align with the discipline they are studying in, alongside the opportunity to work across faculties with other students and researchers. The dissemination of research is promoted at the University of Puthisastra through publications in international and regional journals, conferences and regular research presentations open to all staff and students.

RESEARCH COMMITTEE

Highlighted Research at UP

In 2019 UP established an ‘emerging researcher’ group which was open to staff and students with a passion for research and wishing to further their knowledge and skills in research and health environments. The emerging researcher group came up with the concept of a ‘research café’ where they met other emerging researchers in Phnom Penh to share ideas and network. This led to the UP emerging researchers joining the Future Forum policy lab bootcamp and drafting a policy paper which will be published this year. UP and Future Forum continue to collaborate to further the future of policy and research in Cambodia. The emerging researchers are regular presenters at the Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung forums sharing their ideas with other emerging and experienced researchers/policy makers in Phnom Penh. UP also offers a regular three-month publication challenge where academics (new and experienced) are mentored to develop and publish a manuscript. UP continues to hold workshops for thesis supervisor professional development focusing on the pedagogy of research supervision; offers workshops and online training for ethics and research; and holds regular workshops on qualitative research including methodologies and methods.

Highlighted Projects

The Cambodian Health and Nutrition Monitoring Study (CAHENMS)

The CAHENMS is a collaboration between the Oral Health Bureau, (Department of Preventive Medicine, Ministry of Health, Cambodia), The Maternal Child Nutrition Program, FiA, IRD and UNICEF. A grant from The Burrow Foundation (UK) has made it possible for the Oral Health Bureau and UP to investigate the dynamic relationship between early childhood caries and the failure to thrive in Cambodia using this epidemiological, longitudinal study. UP Adjunct Assistant Prof Bethy Turton led the oral health part of the study with the research team being mainly from UP.

Cambodia Smile

Cambodia Smile was initially a pilot study to assess the effectiveness of a community-based intervention to prevent Early Childhood Caries among preschool children in provincial Cambodia. The project found that Fluoride Varnish together with oral health education rendered a 40% reduction in the prevalence of early childhood caries for 2-year-old children. The program is now being upscaled with the goal of demonstrating to central government that this intervention should be a minimum viable package of care for Cambodian preschool children. The study was led by Adj Assistant Prof Bethy Turton, with Assistant Prof Soeun Sopharith and others from UP being involved. The Oral Health Office at MOH is a partner in this project.

Healthy Kids Cambodia

Healthy Kids is an integrated approach to supporting health for school-age children. This strategy focuses on first establishing a social network that can refer children for management of health issues and who can ensure that healthy behaviours are supported. The second focus is providing a physical environment in which health to occur. Once these foundations are in place then the team are able to conduct interventions that support health such as application of fluoride medicaments (Silver Diammine Fluoride) for preventing tooth decay and distribution of ‘iron fish’ supplements to prevent iron deficiency anaemia. Evaluation of this project is ongoing and so far there is evidence that the application of Silver Diammine Fluoride has been successful at managing 70% of cavitated carious lesions in primary school aged children. Adj Assistant Prof Bethy Turton is leading the project, with UP staff and students as co-investigators. Partners in the project include Oral Health Office, MOH, and School Health Dept at MOEYS.

Geriatric Care Pathways

This is a collaboration between the University of Puthisastra in Cambodia and The Wellness Research Cluster at the University of Malaya. The aim of the investigation is to understand the experiences of elderly in seeking care in South East Asia. This multi-centred study looking to find some standardisation of the oral health care pathway for older adults in the South East Asian region. A focus group interview study has been published by lead author Dr Horn Rithvitou (UP) and others from the faculty. Results from a larger survey is being prepared for publication.

Oral cancer and betel quid chewing in Cambodia

Oral cancer is a significant health problem in Cambodia, primarily associated with smoking, betel quid chewing and HPV infection. UP is collaborating with researchers from Mahsa University in Malaysia to explore the betel quid chewing practices in rural Cambodia. A focus group qualitative investigation as well as a larger survey of betel quid chewers has been completed. Further investigations related to oral cancer are being planned, in collaboration with the Asia Pacific Oral Cancer Network (APOCNET). This work follows on from a national survey of Oral Potentially Malignant Oral Disorders which was a collaboration between UP, University of Malaya and the Oral Health Office at the MOH.

Liver Study

This is an ongoing study that aims to establish, using transient elastography, the prevalence of liver fibrosis and cirrhosis in a sample of the general adult population of Phnom Penh with no symptoms or prior diagnosis of chronic liver disease. The study is led by Professor Sandro Vento.

The experience of online learning and teaching during COVID-19 for staff and students at a private Health Sciences University in Cambodia. The aim of this study is to find out what staff and students experiences of online learning have been to date; their perceptions of online learning; and the benefits and challenges of online learning for them; and their visions of the future potential for online education. This is a mixed method (surveys and focus group discussions) interdisciplinary study. This study is being led by Dr Tineke Water with the involvement of faculties and departments at UP.

Nurses knowledge and attitudes to paediatric pain management. An international study (Nepal, New Zealand, and Cambodia). A descriptive survey. This study is being co-ordinated by Dr Tineke Water (in Cambodia) in collaboration with National Paediatric Hospital and Angkor Children’s Hospital who are leading the research at each centre.

Understanding the health literacy of young children with a long-term condition. A multi-centre study using participatory action research to explore how younger children understand and interpret health information. Dr Tineke Water is co-investigator on this study.

The use of Kaempferia parviflora Wall. Ex Baker (Zingiberaceae) in Cambodia

The aim of the study is to review the scientific properties of Kaempferia parviflora Wall Ex Baker (black ginger); to test for its phytochemical properties and to explore the knowledge and practice of folk healers using Kaempferia parviflora Wall, Ex Baker including how it is prepared, route of administration, duration of use and knowledge/perceptions of outcomes or any occurring side effects. This study is led by Dr Chea Sin in collaboration with Pharm Product Manufacturing (PPM) in Cambodia.