Pamela Valera

Pamela Valera

Pamela Valera

Assistant Professor
Sociomedical Sciences at the Columbia University Medical Center


Dr. Valera is a social work scientist who focuses on research related to cancer-health disparities with criminal justice populations and men who have sex with men (MSM). She is also the co-chair/co-founder of the Bronx Reentry Working Group (, a coalition of agencies, health providers and individuals that provide a broad range of support to returning citizens coming home from state prison and Rikers Island. Dr. Valera uses rigorous community-based participatory approaches to answer complex research questions.


PhD, 2006, University of South Carolina
MSW, 2000, University of Michigan
BA, 1999, University of San Francisco

Columbia Affiliations

Additional Affiliations

Member, Albert Einstein Cancer Center

Member, American Public Health Association

Member, New York Academy of Medicine

Member, Society for Social Work Research

Select Urban Health Activities

Health-seeking behavior study of men involved in the criminal justice system: This research project examines the health-related needs and health behaviors of 259 men ages 35-65 that have criminal justice and substance abuse histories in New York City. Specific aims are: 1) to explore unmet health and psychosocial needs and quality of life among ethnic minority men who have extensive criminal justice and substance histories; 2) to assess health-seeking behaviors among these men, including influences on their decisions to participate in cancer screening, prevention and treatment; 3) to describe contextual barriers and facilitators that affect justice-involved men use of services; and 4) to evaluate the reliability and validity of instruments developed or adapted for use with men with criminal justice and substance use histories.

Bronx Reentry Working Group: The Bronx Reentry Working Group is a volunteer coalition committed to addressing the social and health disparities of individuals with histories of criminal justice involvement.

Select Publications

Valera, P., & Kratz, M. (2013). The illness narratives of men involved in the criminal justice system: A study of health-seeking behaviors, chronic conditions and HIV. Journal of Social Work published online 15 October 2013. doi: 10.1177/1468017313503944.

Rapkin, B., Weiss, E., Lounsbury, D., Thompson, H., Goodman, R., Schechter, C., Merzel, C., Shelton, R., Blank, A., Erb-Downward, J., Williams, A., Valera, P., & Padgett, D. (2012). Using the interactive systems framework to support a quality improvement approach to dissemination of evidence-based strategies to promote early detection of breast cancer: planning a comprehensive dynamic trial. American Journal of Community Psychology, 50, 497-517.

Valera, P., & Taylor, T. (2011). Hating the sin but not the sinner: A study about heterosexism and religious experiences among southern Black men. Journal of Black Studies, 42, 106-122.

Pinto, R., Spector, A., Valera, P., & Community Collaborative Board. (2011). Exploring group dynamics for integrating scientific and experiential knowledge in Community Advisory Boards for HIV research. AIDS Care, 23, 1006-1013.

Nodin, N., Valera, P., Ventaneauc, A, Maynard, E., & Carballo-Dieguez, A. (2011). The internet profiles of men who have sex with men within bareback websites. Culture, Health & Sexuality, 13, 1015-1029.

Morganstern, B., Hakimi, A.A., Roche, C., Valera, P., Ghavamian, R., Rapkin, B. (2011). Delineating inner-city prostate cancer survivors information needs: Educational priorities for patients and provider. Journal of Urology, 185, e254-e255.

Bowleg, L., Valera, P., Teti M., & Tschann, J. (2010). Silence, gestures, and words: Nonverbal communication about HIV and condom use in Black heterosexual relationships. Health Communication, 25, 80-90.

Wilson, P., Valera, P., Ventaneauc, A., Balan, I., & Carballo-Dieguez, A. (2009). Race-based sexual stereotyping and sexual partnering among men who use the internet to identify other men for bareback sex. Journal of Sex Research, 46, 1-15.

Valera, P., Gallin, J., Schuk, D., Davis, N. (2009). Trying to eat healthy: A photovoice study about women's access to healthy food choices in New York City. Affilia: Journal of Women and Social Work, 24, 300-314.

Valera, P., Epperson, M., Daniels, J., Ramaswamy, M., & Freudenberg, N. (2009). Substance use and sexual HIV-risk behavior among young men involved in the criminal justice system. The American Journal of Drug Abuse and Alcohol Abuse, 1, 43-47.

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