We discuss what's behind the high levels of vaccine hesitancy among Black Americans; the link between sexual harassment and sexual assault in the U.S. military; why President Biden can't turn back the clock on the Iran nuclear deal; a focus on civic education after the Capitol attack; International Women's Day; and bundling health care payments.
Evidence suggests that COVID-19 vaccines are extremely safe and effective. But Black Americans have high levels of hesitancy concerning immunization. For people who have long faced discrimination, medical mistrust is a rational “survival mechanism,” says RAND's Laura Bogart. But lower vaccination rates among Black Americans would only exacerbate the damaging racial inequities of the pandemic.
To better understand how to address this challenge, Bogart and her colleagues surveyed a nationally representative sample of 207 Black Americans. Here's what they found:
- More than one-third of respondents agreed or strongly agreed that they would not get a COVID-19 vaccine. An additional 25 percent said they “don't know” if they would get vaccinated.
- Health care workers showed higher vaccine hesitancy than those in other fields, with 48 percent indicating that they would not get vaccinated.
- Key drivers of vaccine hesitancy appear to be mistrust of the government's motives and transparency around COVID-19, as well as beliefs about racism in health care.
- Respondents reported higher trust in COVID-19 information that comes from health care providers and public health officials than from elected officials.
The researchers stress that it's important to address people's specific concerns. For instance, messaging about COVID-19 vaccines should first acknowledge systemic racism as a justifiable reason for mistrust, and then provide accurate information about the vaccines, including details about efficacy and safety.
U.S. service members in locations with high levels of sexual harassment are at greater risk of being sexually assaulted. That's according to a new RAND report. When sexual harassment goes unpunished or ignored, it may create an environment that promotes sexually inappropriate behavior, which can lead to an escalation from harassment to assault. The authors recommend addressing sexual harassment and sexual assault in the military as a single problem.
It's unclear whether the Biden administration will rejoin the Iran nuclear deal. But re-upping the agreement would be difficult, says RAND's Raphael Cohen. The long-standing flaws of the deal remain, he says, and the agreement was predicated on a geopolitical context that no longer exists. What's more, Iran's nuclear program may no longer be a top-tier U.S. policy concern. Returning to the agreement would have to be weighed against more pressing objectives.
The attack on the U.S. Capitol two months ago has led to calls for teachers to address civic education in a much more robust way. Are U.S. educators equipped to do this? Results from a recent RAND study show that teachers lack the training and resources that could help them address history-shaping events as they happen and develop students' civic skills more broadly. RAND's Julia Kaufman says a key first step to helping teachers is to make civic education a priority in state education standards.
Women have always been at the core of RAND's success, tackling some of the world's most complex and important issues—from mental health care, to counterterrorism strategies, to overcoming the health and economic hurdles of the pandemic. In honor of International Women's Day on Monday, we're highlighting the diversity of talent and experience among RAND researchers and leaders who happen to be women.
In an effort to reduce the cost of complicated procedures, doctors, hospitals, and other health providers bundle payments, sharing one fee for all aspects of the procedure. This can provide a substantial cost savings for both patients and health care payers, according to a new RAND study. But it remains to be seen whether these results will extend beyond a small number of big-ticket surgical procedures, such as knee replacements, and benefit a wider range of patients.
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