Public Health

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Public health refers to social, cultural, economic, and geographic conditions that affect a population's well-being. To assist local, national, and international health agencies and organizations, RAND conducts research on public health issues including disaster preparedness and recovery; surveillance, prevention, and management of infectious disease outbreaks; screening for and prevention of chronic diseases; and ways to strengthen the public health infrastructure.

  • Specimens of Aedes aegypti mosquito are displayed during a campaign to raise awareness of Zika virus at the Health Ministry in Lima, Peru, January 27, 2016, photo by Mariana Bazo/Reuters

    Commentary

    Fighting the Zika Virus: What Public Health Officials Need to Do

    Jan 28, 2016

    For now, public health officials and their partners must do all they can to control Zika virus, using the tools at hand. That may include instituting a public health campaign to reduce mosquito-breeding sites and promoting prudent protection against mosquito bites.

  • Over 5,000 weapons confiscated from criminals in Los Angeles County and collected through a gun buyback program were  melted and reformed as steel in Rancho Cucamonga, California, July 2013, photo by David McNew/Reuters

    Commentary

    Gun Violence: Where Is the Research That Might Save Lives?

    Nov 5, 2015

    Gun violence is an important public health problem that accounts for more than 33,000 deaths each year in the United States. But in 1996, Congress stripped the CDC of funding for any research that could be associated with gun control advocacy. The lack of CDC funding has deterred researchers.

Explore Public Health

  • Rows of cannabis plants in a greenhouse

    Q&A

    Researcher Q&A: Beau Kilmer on the State of Marijuana Legalization

    Beau Kilmer, co-director of the RAND Drug Policy Research Center and a co-author of the nonpartisan primer Marijuana Legalization: What Everyone Needs to Know addresses developments in marijuana policy and why reasonable people can disagree about legalization.

    May 26, 2016

  • Hispanic girl in line at food bank kitchen

    Research Brief

    Testing the Connection Between Social Spending and Better Health: European Edition

    This brief discusses the implications of research findings that, within the European Union, higher levels of social spending are strongly associated with better health.

    May 25, 2016

  • Hispanic girl in line at food bank kitchen

    Research Brief

    Testing the Connection Between Social Spending and Better Health: U.S. Edition

    This brief discusses the implications of research findings that, in the United States, higher levels of social spending are strongly associated with better health.

    May 25, 2016

  • Grandfather and grandson fishing

    Commentary

    Does Social Spending Hold the Key to Better Health?

    Many governments are cutting spending on social welfare programs, such as unemployment benefits, while protecting health care spending. This could actually be negatively affecting population health.

    May 24, 2016

  • Hereford cattle eating at a trough

    Commentary

    The Global Economic Costs of Antimicrobial Resistance

    In addition to being a public health problem, antimicrobial resistance is also a major economic concern. It crosses sectoral boundaries, because resistant bugs can pass between animals and humans, and through food, agriculture, and the environment.

    May 20, 2016

  • People look at products at the medical marijuana farmers market at the California Heritage Market in Los Angeles, California July 11, 2014

    Commentary

    What Are the Public Health Consequences of Legalizing Marijuana?

    Legalizing and allowing profit-maximizing firms to produce, sell, and advertise recreational marijuana would likely increase marijuana consumption. But how would this increased consumption influence the use of other substances?

    May 16, 2016

  • Girl holding balloons

    Commentary

    Does Increased Social Spending Lead to Better Population Health?

    Higher levels of social spending are strongly associated with better health outcomes in many countries, with this link strengthening over time. The association also holds when looking at regional differences within the United States, where spending varies state-by-state.

    May 11, 2016

  • Girl with balloons, walking on beach

    Report

    Are better health outcomes related to social expenditure? A cross-national empirical analysis of social expenditure and population health measures

    This cross-national analysis explores the association between social spending and population health outcomes. It widens the scope of the previous analysis, incorporating social capital and income inequality and looks at associations across US states.

    May 10, 2016

  • Brandy Tseu uses an electronic cigarette at The Vapor Spot vapor bar in Los Angeles, California, March 4, 2014

    Commentary

    The Smoke and Mirrors of Tobacco Regulations

    With new regulations on more products such as e-cigarettes, the FDA is moving forward to protect the public from the harms of tobacco. But there are many ways the regulations as they're currently proposed could change.

    May 9, 2016

  • Volunteers distribute bottled water to help combat the effects of the contaminated water crisis in Flint, Michigan, March 5, 2016

    Commentary

    Community Resilience Is Key in the Aftermath of Flint's Lead Water Crisis

    For Flint to recover from this latest disaster, it will be critical for the public, private, and nonprofit sectors to invest in and implement strategies to build on existing community resilience and strengthen Flint's ability to bounce back.

    Mar 9, 2016

  • Gold dollar signs surrounding a map of the United States

    Project

    Small Ideas for Saving Big Health Care Dollars

    Big proposals to rein in health care spending in the United States have encountered stiff political and organizational resistance. But adopting a combination of smaller ideas could save the U.S. health care system a total of up to $26 billion a year.

    Mar 8, 2016

  • An aedes aegypti mosquito is pictured on a leaf in San Jose, Costa Rica, February 1, 2016

    Commentary

    Electronic Health Records: Yesterday's Ebola and Today's Zika

    Electronic health records in U.S. hospitals are not yet prompting for screening questions related to Zika virus. Why? The existing system is too slow to respond and when it does, it finds itself chasing the past.

    Feb 18, 2016

  • A scientist displays Aedes aegypti mosquitoes inside the International IAEA's insect pest control laboratory in Seibersdorf, Austria, February 10, 2016

    Commentary

    Know Zika to Fight Zika

    Scientists across universities, governments, and industry are doubling down to gain a better understanding of the Zika virus and develop the diagnostic, preventive, and therapeutic tools needed to combat it. In the meantime, the public must be actively engaged.

    Feb 12, 2016

  • t-call-experts-hr

    Multimedia

    The Zika Virus: What We Know So Far

    The Zika virus, a mosquito-borne disease that may be linked to brain damage in infants, is emerging as a public health priority. In this Call with the Experts, RAND Senior Natural Scientist Melinda Moore answers questions about Zika and what can be done to prevent its spread.

    Feb 9, 2016

  • News Release

    Frequent Alcohol Testing Combined with Swift, Certain and Modest Sanctions Is Associated with Drop in Mortality

    An innovative program that requires alcohol-involved offenders to abstain from alcohol and submit to frequent tests was associated with a 4 percent drop in deaths. The associations were most evident among causes of death related to excessive alcohol use, such as circulatory conditions.

    Feb 9, 2016

  • Woman filling out a survey

    Report

    Development of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation National Survey of Health Attitudes: Description and Top-Line Summary Data

    This report describes the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation's National Survey of Health Attitudes, part of the foundation's Culture of Health strategy. It describes the survey development and provides the survey text and summary statistics of the data.

    Jan 21, 2016

  • Man registering for marathon at a community gathering

    Report

    Stakeholder Perspectives on a Culture of Health: Key Findings

    RAND engaged stakeholders to support development of an action framework and measurement strategy for Robert Wood Johnson's Culture of Health vision, in which "everyone in our diverse society leads healthier lives now and for generations to come."

    Jan 14, 2016

  • A Super Scooper aircraft battles a 40-acre fire east of the Sepulveda Pass in Los Angeles

    Commentary

    Wildfires Getting More Destructive

    The potential for smoke to harm air quality and cause health problems was especially acute in 2015 because a record number of wildfires broke out in the United States. Pre-wildfire season preparedness could go a long way toward protecting public health.

    Dec 28, 2015

  • Paramedics pushing a patient on a gurney into a hospital

    Commentary

    Saving Lives After Tragedy

    Natural and man-made mass-casualty incidents are a growing threat. Evaluating successes and shortcomings after each crisis can contribute to the design and implementation of robust and resilient response systems and ensure the best possible outcomes for individuals and impacted communities.

    Dec 14, 2015

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