Mental Health Stigma in the Military

October 30, 2014 Comments off

Mental Health Stigma in the Military
Source: RAND Corporation

Despite the efforts of both the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) and the Veterans Health Administration to enhance mental health services, many service members are not regularly seeking needed care when they have mental health problems. Without appropriate treatment, these mental health problems can have wide-ranging and negative impacts on the quality of life and the social, emotional, and cognitive functioning of affected service members. The services have been actively engaged in developing policies, programs, and campaigns designed to reduce stigma and increase service members’ help-seeking behavior. However, there has been no comprehensive assessment of these efforts’ effectiveness and the extent to which they align with service members’ needs or evidence-based practices. The goal of this research was to assess DoD’s approach to stigma reduction — how well it is working and how it might be improved. To address these questions, RAND researchers used five complementary methods: (1) literature review, (2) a microsimulation modeling of costs, (3) interviews with program staff, (4) prospective policy analysis, and (5) an expert panel. The priorities outlined in this report represent a first step for where additional program and policy development and research and evaluation are needed to improve understanding of how best to get service members with mental health disorders the needed treatment as efficiently and effectively as possible.

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Consumer Credit in Canada

October 30, 2014 Comments off

Consumer Credit in Canada
Source: IBISWorld

Record low interest rates and rising house prices in Canada have encouraged Canadians to take on more debt over the 10 years to 2014, with similar trends expected over 2015. IBISWorld estimates that overall debt per capita including mortgages for Canadian consumers will increase at an annualized rate of 3.7% to $49,634 over the five years to 2014, while debt per capita excluding mortgages will increase at an annualized rate of 1.8% to $17,338 over the same period. IBISWorld expects overall debt and debt excluding mortgages to increase to $52,547 and $17,893, respectively, by the end of 2015. While the massive increase in consumer debt has enabled higher spending by Canadian consumers, benefiting many segments of the economy, high consumer debt could have potentially devastating consequences for the economy in case of any negative exogenous changes, such as a drop in house prices or an increase in interest rates.

A Better Way to Budget for Federal Lending Programs

October 30, 2014 Comments off

A Better Way to Budget for Federal Lending Programs
Source: Tax Policy institute (Urban Institute and Brookings Institution)

Policy analysts have long debated how best to budget for student loans, mortgage guarantees, and other federal lending programs. Under official budget rules, these programs appear highly profitable; under an alternative, favored by many analysts, they appear to lose money. That discrepancy confuses policy deliberations. In this brief, Donald Marron proposes a new budgeting approach, known as expected returns, that would eliminate this confusion. Unlike existing approaches, expected returns accurately reports the fiscal effects of lending over time and provides a natural way to distinguish the fiscal gains from bearing financial risk from the subsidies given to borrowers.

Provision of No-Cost, Long-Acting Contraception and Teenage Pregnancy

October 30, 2014 Comments off

Provision of No-Cost, Long-Acting Contraception and Teenage Pregnancy
Source: New England Journal of Medicine

We found that pregnancy, birth, and abortion rates were low among teenage girls and women enrolled in a project that removed financial and access barriers to contraception and informed them about the particular efficacy of LARC methods. The observed rates of pregnancy, birth, and abortion were substantially lower than national rates among all U.S. teens, particularly when compared with sexually experienced U.S. teens. Stratification according to factors known to be associated with sexual behavior and pregnancy risk (age and race)21 showed that this was true among both older teens (18 to 19 years of age) and younger teens, as well as among both white and black teens.

Comparing Federal Government Surveys that Count the Uninsured: 2014

October 30, 2014 Comments off

Comparing Federal Government Surveys that Count the Uninsured: 2014
Source: Robert Wood Johnson Foundation

Estimates of the number of people who are uninsured are available from several different sources. This brief provides an annual update to comparisons of uninsurance estimates from five federal surveys. It presents trends in national estimates of uninsurance, presents the most recent available state-level estimates from these surveys, and describes the main reasons for variation in the estimates across the different surveys.

Climate Change, Heat Stress, and U.S. Dairy Production

October 30, 2014 Comments off

Climate Change, Heat Stress, and U.S. Dairy Production
Source: USDA Economic Research Service

In the United States, climate change is likely to increase average daily temperatures and the frequency of heat waves. Dairy cows are particularly sensitive to heat stress, and the dairy sector has been estimated to bear over half of the costs of current heat stress to the livestock industry. Greater heat stress may lower U.S. milk production 0.6-1.3 percent by 2030.

Social Network Analysis Shows Direct Evidence for Social Transmission of Tool Use in Wild Chimpanzees

October 30, 2014 Comments off

Social Network Analysis Shows Direct Evidence for Social Transmission of Tool Use in Wild Chimpanzees
Source: PLoS Biology

Social network analysis methods have made it possible to test whether novel behaviors in animals spread through individual or social learning. To date, however, social network analysis of wild populations has been limited to static models that cannot precisely reflect the dynamics of learning, for instance, the impact of multiple observations across time. Here, we present a novel dynamic version of network analysis that is capable of capturing temporal aspects of acquisition—that is, how successive observations by an individual influence its acquisition of the novel behavior. We apply this model to studying the spread of two novel tool-use variants, “moss-sponging” and “leaf-sponge re-use,” in the Sonso chimpanzee community of Budongo Forest, Uganda. Chimpanzees are widely considered the most “cultural” of all animal species, with 39 behaviors suspected as socially acquired, most of them in the domain of tool-use. The cultural hypothesis is supported by experimental data from captive chimpanzees and a range of observational data. However, for wild groups, there is still no direct experimental evidence for social learning, nor has there been any direct observation of social diffusion of behavioral innovations. Here, we tested both a static and a dynamic network model and found strong evidence that diffusion patterns of moss-sponging, but not leaf-sponge re-use, were significantly better explained by social than individual learning. The most conservative estimate of social transmission accounted for 85% of observed events, with an estimated 15-fold increase in learning rate for each time a novice observed an informed individual moss-sponging. We conclude that group-specific behavioral variants in wild chimpanzees can be socially learned, adding to the evidence that this prerequisite for culture originated in a common ancestor of great apes and humans, long before the advent of modern humans.

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