Rachel Shelton

Rachel Shelton

Rachel Shelton

Assistant Professor
Sociomedical Sciences


722 West 168th Street, Room 941
New York NY USA 10032
Email: CV:


Rachel Shelton, ScD, MPH is a social and behavioral researcher with expertise in cancer prevention and control and health disparities. Dr. Shelton has training in social epidemiology, community-based participatory research, and intervention research. In addition, she has expertise and training in the implementation and sustainability of community-based and health systems interventions. She has over 12 years of experience conducting qualitative, quantitative, and mixed-methods community-based research in the area of cancer health disparities, with a track record of nearly 50 peer-reviewed publications. Her research has focused on social and contextual factors that influence disparities in cancer and obesity prevention among low-income African American and Hispanic populations, including social networks, social support, and experiences of discrimination and mistrust. She completed a K12 grant and a Mentored Research Scholar Grant through the American Cancer Society award to study social influences on psychosocial outcomes for colon cancer patients when there is insufficient evidence to guide clinical decision-making. As PI, she conducted an NCI-funded R03 study with The National Witness Project to understand the experience and impact of being a Lay Health Advisor, including the individual, social, and organizational factors that influence the participation and retention of Lay Health Advisors for cancer prevention and control among women in African American communities. Dr. Shelton has expertise in the sustainability of evidence-based interventions, and recently received a Research Scholar Grant from the American Cancer Society that will examine factors that influence the long-term sustainability and impact of this evidence-based program nationally. Dr. Shelton is MPI on a funded R01 from NIA focused on understanding the role of social stressors and resources on epigenetic aging markers and whether they contribute to accelerated aging among African Americans. She has taught courses in theory and Intervention Mapping, and teaches one of the first courses offered in 'Dissemination & Implementation Science' in a school of public health (offered since 2013).



ScD, 2008, Harvard School of Public Health
MPH, 2004, UNC-Chapel Hill School of Public Health
BA, 1998, University of Virginia

Mailman Affiliations

Associate Director of Research, Lerner Center for Public Health Promotion
Member, Obesity Prevention Initiative

Editorial Boards

Health Education & Behavior

Columbia Affiliations

Member, Prevention, Control, and Disparities Program, Herbert Irving Comprehensive Cancer Center

Other Affiliations

Adjunct Assistant Professor, Mount Sinai School of Medicine, Department of Oncological Science/Cancer Prevention & Control
Program Chair, Society of Behavioral Medicine
Editorial Board, Health Education & Behavior

Honors & Awards

NIH Health Disparities LRP Award, National Center on Minority Health & Health Disparities, 2009-2014
Outstanding Teaching Assistant Award, Harvard School of Public Health, 2005-2006
Kathy Kerr Memorial Scholarship, UNC-Chapel Hill, 2003
Fellow, Training Institute for Dissemination & Implementation Research in Health, 2015
Provost's Award to Promote Diversity at Columbia University, 2017

Areas of Expertise

Cancer, Cancer Breast, Cancer Colon, Cancer Prostate, Cancer Screening, Community Programs and Outreach, Community-Based Healthcare, Discrimination/Bias, Disparities / Inequalities in Health, Minority Health, Social / Cultural Issues, Social Capital, Social Epidemiology, Social Factors in Health, Underserved Populations, Women's Health, Urban Health

Select Publications

Shelton RC, Cooper BR, Stirman SW. The Sustainability of Evidence-Based Interventions and Practices in Public Health and Health Care. Annu Rev Public Health. 2018 Jan 12. doi: 10.1146/annurev-publhealth-040617-014731.
RC Shelton, TA Charles, SK Dunston, L Jandorf, DO Erwin. Advancing understanding of the sustainability of lay health advisor (LHA) programs for African-American women in community settings Translational Behavioral Medicine, 2017; 1-12
Shelton RC, Dunston SK, Leoce N, Jandorf L, Thompson HS, Erwin DO. Advancing Understanding of the Characteristics and Capacity of African American Women Who Serve as Lay Health Advisors in Community-Based Settings. Health Educ Behav. 2017 May 19. pii: 1090198116646365.
Shelton RC, Hillyer GC, Hershman DL, Leoce N, Bovbjerg DH, Mandelblatt JS, Kushi LH, Lamerato L, Nathanson D, Ambrosone CB, Neugut AI. Interpersonal Influences and Attitudes about Adjuvant Therapy Treatment Decisions among Early Stage Breast Cancer Patients: An Examination of Differences by Age and Race/Ethnicity in the BQUAL Study. Breast Cancer Research & Treatment. 137(3) 817-828 2013
Shelton RC, Dunston SK, Leoce N, Jandorf L, Thompson HS, Crookes DM, Erwin DO. Predictors of activity level and retention among African American lay health advisors (LHAs) from The National Witness Project: Implications for the implementation and sustainability of community-based LHA programs from a longitudinal study. Implement Sci. 2016 Mar 22;11:41. doi: 10.1186/s13012-016-0403-9.
Shelton RC, Jandorf L, Ellison J, Villagra C, DuHamel KN. The Influence of sociocultural factors on colorectal cancer screening adherence among low-income Hispanics. Journal of Healthcare for the Poor & Underserved. 22(3) 925-44 2011
Shelton RC, Puleo E, Bennett GG, McNeill LH, Wolin KY, Emmons KM. The Association between Social Factors and Physical Activity among Low-Income Adults Living in Public Housing. American Journal of Public Health. 101(11) 2102-10 2011
Shelton RC, Goldman R, Emmons KM, Sorensen G, Allen JD. An Investigation into the Social Context of Low-income, Urban Black and Latina Women: Implications for Adherence to Recommended Health Behaviors. Health Education & Behavior. 38(5) 471-81 2011
Shelton RC, Winkel G, Davis S, Roberts N, Valdimarsdottir H, Hall SJ, Thompson HS. Validation of the Group-Based Medical Mistrust Scale among Urban Black Men. Journal of General Internal Medicine. 25(6) 549-55 2010
Shelton RC, Puleo E, Bennett GG, McNeill LH, Goldman R, Emmons KM. Racial Discrimination and Physical Activity among Low-income Housing Residents. American Journal of Preventive Medicine 37(6) 541-5 2009

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