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September 27, 2019

Drug Prices, China, Workplace Harassment: RAND Weekly Recap

This week, we discuss the road to mental health recovery for veterans; the risks of Washington's approach to China; how to lower U.S. prescription drug prices; sexual harassment in today's workplace; why understanding “will to fight” is crucial; and how to support teaching as a profession.

Billboard that reads, "Welcome Home SGT KURT POWER" and illustration of mental health issues

Photo courtesy of Kurt Power. Illustration by Chara Williams/RAND Corporation

High-Quality Mental Health Care Can Improve Veterans' Lives

During his deployment to Iraq, U.S. Army Sergeant Kurt Power narrowly survived a sniper's bullet. He returned home with a physical scar, but his injuries ran deeper. “I got hit with something I had never felt—and that was fear,” he said. “I never expected I would make it, so I never thought I'd have to be the person I was before the war. My family all expected me to be him, and that person no longer exists.”

Power's experience is not uncommon: One in five veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan experience the “invisible wounds” of posttraumatic stress disorder or major depression. There are several barriers that make it hard for veterans to get the help they need, but effective treatments are available. A growing body of RAND research shows that veterans who receive high-quality care—as Power did—have the best chance of improving their mental health outcomes.

U.S. President Donald Trump attends a bilateral meeting with China's President Xi Jinping during the G20 leaders summit in Osaka, Japan, June 29, 2019, photo by Kevin Lamarque/Reuters

U.S. President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping attend a bilateral meeting during the G20 leaders summit in Osaka, Japan, June 29, 2019

Photo by Kevin Lamarque/Reuters

How Not to Confront China

Washington is confronting China in a way that may be unlikely to advance U.S. competitiveness or enlist much international support. That's according to RAND's Ali Wyne and James Dobbins, who recently outlined five key concerns with the current U.S. approach. Most notably, the Trump administration hasn't explained what it ultimately hopes to accomplish, they say. This may increase the risk that America will “focus more on a highly improbable quest to contain China than on an eminently achievable effort to renew itself.”

A variety of prescription pills and capsules formed into a dollar sign, photo by ADragan/Getty Images

Photo by ADragan/Getty Images

Should the U.S. Offshore Prescription Drug Pricing?

In many countries, the price of a prescription drug is informed by weighing the benefits that drug offers. This is not the case in the United States, where spending on pharmaceuticals is often much higher. Using pricing from overseas to set U.S. drug prices could offer a relatively quick solution to help lower that spending, says RAND's Andrew Mulcahy. Questions about this strategy remain, but it could help achieve a decades-long goal for the U.S. health care system: aligning spending on drugs with value.

A woman at a desk upset by something on a laptop, photo by fizkes/Getty Images

Photo by fizkes/Getty Images

Sexual Harassment in Today's (and Tomorrow's) Workplace

What's different about sexual harassment in the workplace today than in the past? What challenges do employers face in addressing harassment? Can new technologies like machine learning help deal with the problem? In a new Q&A, RAND's Carra Sims tackles these questions and more. Overall, progress is being made on this issue, she says, but “the underlying societal cause of sexual harassment—that women are still not quite seen as equal—remains.”

Riflemen compete in the Lithuanian Best Infantry Squad Competition at Rukla Training Area, Lithuania, August 24, 2017, photo by Lithuanian Land Forces

Riflemen compete in the Lithuanian Best Infantry Squad Competition at Rukla Training Area, Lithuania, Aug. 24, 2017.

Photo courtesy of Lithuanian Land Forces

Understanding the 'Will to Fight'

“Will to fight”—the disposition and decision to fight, to keep fighting, and to win—is arguably the most important factor in war. Why? Because, with few exceptions, all wars and almost all battles are decided by matters of human will. As the focus on technology increases, the essentially human nature of war is largely ignored. A new RAND research brief lays out a path to help fill this dangerous gap in American military practice—and to better understand will to fight.

A teacher and a student presenting to class, photo by FatCamera/Getty Images

Photo by FatCamera/Getty Images

Elevate Teachers' Voices, Not Just Their Salaries

Teacher pay raises are a good thing. But small increases aren't enough to advance teaching as a lifelong profession, says RAND's Julia Kaufman. Evidence from her recent study of education reform efforts in Louisiana suggests a way forward. The state has focused on fostering leadership among teachers and developing direct lines of communication with educators. Such efforts help to elevate teachers' voices, she says. And they're more likely to make a difference by providing teachers with a clear career ladder.

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