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Faculty & Staff Honors

Faculty & Staff Honors

Columbia Faculty Named Program Chair of Society of Behavioral Medicine’s 2018 Annual Meeting

Dr. Rachel C. Shelton, Mailman School of Public Health assistant professor of Sociomedical Sciences, has been selected Program Chair for the 2018 Society of Behavioral Medicine’s annual meeting. More than 1,700 researchers, clinicians, professionals, and students are expected to attend the meeting April 11 -14, 2018 in New Orleans.


[Photo: Dr. Rachel C. Shelton]

A social and behavioral researcher with expertise in cancer prevention and health disparities, Shelton, is also associate director of research at Mailman’s Lerner Center for Public Health Promotion. She focuses on two areas of research in particular:  implementation science and lay health advisors. Her recent paper, Advancing Understanding of the Characteristics and Capacity of African-American Women Who Serve as Lay Health Advisors in Community-Based Settings, examines the contributions that African American lay health advisors make in their communities — contributions that often have benefits beyond health.

“Lay health advisor programs are a community-engaged approach that holds tremendous promise for reducing health disparities and addressing social determinants of health. They are highly effective in improving behavior, attitudes, knowledge, and access within cancer screening programs, particularly among African American and Hispanic women, and in promoting health behavior change in the context of other chronic diseases as well,” noted Shelton.

Shelton also has built and maintains a strong research relationship with the National Witness Project, one of the largest and most sustained evidence-based lay health advisory programs in the U.S. As one of the National Cancer Institute’s rigorously evaluated Research Tested Intervention Programs, it has been replicated and implemented in 40 sites, and has been found to effectively increase breast and cervical cancer screening among African American women. Shelton plans to continue research that will focus on gaining a better understanding of the long-term implementation, sustainability, and impact of the program. As an associate editor at the journal, “Health Education & Behavior,” Shelton will also be guest editing a theme issue entitled “Advancing the Science of Qualitative Research to Promote Health Equity.”