Veterans Health Care, Media Literacy, Sleep Retreats: RAND Weekly Recap


RAND Weekly Recap

September 9, 2022

This week, we discuss the promise and challenges of VA community care; helping middle school students navigate today's media landscape; what communities can do to prevent and respond to mass attacks; the lack of data on police killings in America; assessing the quality of Medicare Advantage plans; and how to turn your home into a “sleep haven.”

A female patient sitting on a bed talking to a female doctor who is wearing a stethoscope around her neck. Photo by nortonrsx / Getty Images

Photo by nortonrsx/Getty Images

The Promise and Challenges of VA Community Care

Despite an overall decline in the U.S. veteran population, the number of veterans using VA health care has increased. To help meet demand, the VA supplements the care it provides directly with health care from private-sector community providers.

This model promised to provide more flexibility, shorter wait times, and improved access to care. But research has revealed several challenges and open questions:

  • The cost and quality of community care relative to VA-delivered care are largely unknown.
  • As more veterans receive care from private-sector providers, coordination may become more difficult.
  • Access to community care may not be any better than access to care at VA facilities.
  • Community care providers lack knowledge about veterans' unique experiences and might not be equipped to meet their needs.

RAND experts have laid out a path for research that could help address these challenges and ensure that veterans can receive the high-quality care they need—whether at VA facilities or in the community.

Support didn't come soon enough for Sheena Graham, who decided to retire earlier than she had planned. But she remains optimistic about her former profession. “I believe in educators,” she says. “I believe we have the ability to change the world.”

A teen boy using a laptop sitting on a bed, photo by SelectStock/Getty Images

Photo by SelectStock/Getty Images

Improving Media Literacy Among Middle Schoolers

By age 13, around 80 percent of kids will have opened an account on social media, where they can be easy marks for disinformation, trolls, and deceit. That's why RAND experts designed a series of lesson plans to help middle school students navigate today's media landscape. Ensuring that kids become savvy users of news and information is important not just for their futures, but for the future of democracy.

A memorial site outside Oxford High School in Oxford, Michigan, after a 15-year-old allegedly killed four classmates and injured seven others on November 30, 2021, photo by Jake May/The Flint Journal via AP

A memorial outside Oxford High School in Michigan, after a mass shooting left four students dead and injured seven others on November 30, 2021

Photo by Jake May/The Flint Journal/AP

How to Prevent and Respond to Mass Attacks

What can people do to protect their communities from mass shootings? RAND researchers have spent two years working to answer that question. They looked at hundreds of shootings and other mass attacks, as well as violent plots that were never carried out. Then they developed a step-by-step guide to help individuals and communities stop attacks before they happen and save lives if they do. The strategies can be implemented right away—no Senate vote or governor's signature required.

Police vehicles at night, photo by MattGush/Getty Images

Photo by MattGush/Getty Images

Addressing a 'Severe Lack of Data' on Police Killings

Police in America fatally shoot around 1,000 people every year. The risk of being killed by law enforcement is particularly high for young men—and even higher for Black men. In a new Q&A, RAND’s Melissa Labriola explains how her recent research reveals issues that are foundational to the problem of police violence. For one, racial inequities in general are woefully understudied, despite the attention they have received in recent years.

A health care worker taking the blood pressure of senior woman at home, photo by FG Trade/Getty Images

Photo by FG Trade/Getty Images

Medicare Advantage: Higher Premiums Don't Always Mean Better Care

Enrolling in a higher-cost Medicare Advantage plan may not always lead to better-quality health care for seniors. That's according to a new RAND study. Researchers examined more than 700 plans and found that those with a higher monthly premium provided on average only slightly better care compared with no-premium plans. This suggests that seniors should consider factors other than premium costs—Medicare's Star Ratings, for example—when looking for a plan that offers high-quality care.

Bright peaceful bedroom with wood floor, large window, bed with blue comforter, white pillows, and orange accent pillow, photo by CreativaStudio/Getty Images

Photo by CreativaStudio/Getty Images

Sleep Retreats Are a Pricey Trend That Doesn't Have to Be

Sleep vacations—multi-day immersive experiences focused on rest and relaxation—are a growing trend. But they often come with a steep price tag. If a luxury retreat is out of reach, RAND's Wendy Troxel has some tips for turning your home into a sleep haven. For example, upgrade your bedding or mattress, keep your bedroom free from clutter and distractions, and establish a wind-down routine. Whatever you do, Troxel says, the key is to ensure that new healthy sleep behaviors become lasting habits.

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