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Faculty & Staff Honors

Faculty & Staff Honors

Columbia Professor is Co-Editor of Health Education & Behavior Special Issue on Promoting Health Equity

Dr. Rachel Shelton, assistant professor of sociomedical sciences at Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health, was named co-editor of Health Education & Behavior’s special theme issue, “Advancing the Science of Qualitative Research to Promote Health Equity.” The issue showcases how qualitative research is being used to expand the health equity lens across a variety of public health issues such as cancer, HIV, HPV, condom use, childhood obesity, and school nutrition policy. The journal is a publication of the  Society for Public Health Education.


[Photo: Dr. Rachel Shelton]

A social and behavioral researcher, Dr. Shelton’s research focuses on understanding aspects of social context to improve population health and address racial, ethnic and socioeconomic-based health disparities in the areas of cancer and obesity

Through this issue, the Society for Public Health Education seeks to catalyze new discussions among researchers and practitioners about uses of qualitative research in understanding complex attitudes and behaviors and better explain why disparities exist and what can be done to reduce or eliminate them. Dr. Shelton and her colleagues underscore the critical role that qualitative research plays in incorporating a rich diversity of information that can be difficult to capture in quantitative research.

Fifteen peer-reviewed articles explore uses of qualitative methods such as Photovoice, ethnographic interviews, oral histories, focus groups, and in-depth individual interviews. A community-based participatory research approach is prominent in several papers. In addition, Dr. Shelton led a closing commentary focused on the promise of qualitative research to inform theory to address health equity with her co-editors of the issue, Dr. Derek Griffith (Vanderbilt) and Dr. Michelle Kegler (Emory).

Limited open access is available for the featured article: 
Advancing the Science of Qualitative Research to Promote Health Equity

Mailman School’s Dr. Diana Hernandez, assistant professor of sociomedical sciences and Dr. Lisa Metsch, chair and Stephen Smith Professor of Sociomedical Sciences, were principal authors of the article: When “the Cure” Is the Risk: Understanding How Substance Use Affects HIV and HCV in a Layered Risk Environment in San Juan, Puerto Rico.