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 development, and uses both quantitative and qualitative research methods. Her current research largely focuses on understanding aspects of social context to improve population health and address racial/ethnic and socioeconomic-based health disparities. Specific areas of inquiry relate to : 1) how interpersonal, structural, and sociocultural factors influence preventive health behaviors (e.g. physical activity, cancer screening behaviors) that are associated with cancer and obesity; and 2) developing, disseminating and sustaining community-based and health systems interventions to reduce the risk of cancer and obesity. The overarching goal of this research is to advance social science research and interventions/policies to promote health and reduce health disparities among underserved populations. Dr. Shelton was recently awarded a Mentored Research Scholar Grant through the American Cancer Society. This five year grant will use mixed methods to examine how interpersonal relationships and communication between patients, providers, and family members influence treatment decisions and health outcomes among colon cancer patients. Dr. Shelton recently completed a R03 study from the National Cancer Institute in collaboration with The National Witness Project to understand the personal and community impact of lay health advisors in African American communities, and factors that contribute to the sustainability of these programs in community settings. Dr. Shelton has taught courses in Intervention Mapping and Dissemination/Implementation Science.



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
Associate Editor, 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, Discrimination/Bias, Disparities / Inequalities in Health, Minority Health, Social / Cultural Issues, Social Epidemiology, Women's Health

Select Publications

Advancing understanding of the sustainability of lay health advisor (LHA) programs for African-American women in community settings RC Shelton, TA Charles, SK Dunston, L Jandorf, DO Erwin Translational Behavioral Medicine, 1-12
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, 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, 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
Shelton RC, Puleo E, Bennett GG, McNeill LH, Sorensen G, Emmons KM. The Association between Racial and Gender Discrimination and Body Mass Index among Residents Living in Lower-income Housing. Ethnicity & Disease 19(3) 251-257 2009

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