You are here

Shelly F. Greenfield, MD, MPH

Shelly F. Greenfield, MD, MPH

McLean Hospital Title:
Harvard Medical School Title:
  • Professor of Psychiatry


Shelly F. Greenfield, MD, MPH, is an addiction psychiatrist, clinician, and researcher. Dr. Greenfield serves as principal and co-investigator on federally funded research focusing on substance use disorders treatment, gender differences in substance disorders, and substance disorders health services. She is a recipient of a National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA)-funded career award in mentoring in substance use disorder patient oriented research and received a NIDA-funded grant to develop and test a new manual-based group therapy for women with substance use disorders.

Dr. Greenfield is a member of the Board of Directors of the American Academy of Addiction Psychiatry, the American Psychiatric Association's Council on Addiction Psychiatry, and chair of the NIDA Clinical Trial Network's Gender Special Interest Group. She is editor-in-chief of the Harvard Review of Psychiatry. Dr. Greenfield is a distinguished fellow of the American Psychiatric Association, and recipient of the R. Brinkley Smithers Distinguished Scientist Award from the American Society of Addiction Medicine.

Research Focus:

Established in 2009, Dr. Greenfield’s Alcohol and Drug Abuse Clinical and Health Services Research Program focuses on a wide range of questions regarding development, implementation, quality, and financing of treatment services for substance use disorders in the US and globally. Dr. Greenfield and her team are currently focused in three main areas: gender differences in substance use disorders, development of effective treatments for substance use disorders in special populations such as women and people with co-occurring other psychiatric disorders, effective implementation of treatment services for substance use disorders, and public health efforts aimed at prevention and early detection.

Dr. Greenfield has developed and tested the implementation of an effective group therapy for women with substance use disorders. Through collaborations with other researchers, she and her staff have investigated implementation of screening, brief counseling, and pharmacotherapy for individuals with alcohol problems and tuberculosis in Russia; services for women with substance use and co-occurring psychiatric disorders; substance abuse and HIV risk behaviors; and financing and quality care for children and adults with substance use disorders.

The following studies, a sampling of Dr. Greenfield’s research, used mixed methods to evaluate the effectiveness of single-gender group therapy for women with substance use disorders.

The aim of the Women’s Recovery Group (WRG) study was to develop a manual-based 12-session WRG and to pilot test this new treatment in a randomized controlled trial against a mixed gender group drug counseling (GDC). After initial manual development, two pre-pilot groups of WRG were conducted to determine feasibility and initial acceptability of the treatment among subjects and therapists. In the pilot stage, women were randomized to either WRG or GDC. The WRG was equally effective as mixed-gender GDC in reducing substance use during the 12-week in-treatment phase, but demonstrated significantly greater improvement in reductions in drug and alcohol use over the post-treatment follow-up phase compared with GDC. A women-focused single gender group treatment may enhance longer-term clinical outcomes among women with substance use disorders.

Dr. Greenfield’s study of women with substance use disorders, “A Qualitative Analysis of Women’s Experiences in Single-Gender Versus Mixed-Gender Substance Abuse Group Therapy,” used grounded theory to examine women’s experiences in both the women’s recovery group (WRG) and a mixed gender group drug counseling (GDC). Semi-structured interviews were completed by 28 women in a US metropolitan area. Compared to GDC, women in WRG more frequently endorsed feeling safe, embracing all aspects of one’s self, having their needs met, and feeling intimacy, empathy, and honesty. In addition, group cohesion and support allowed women to focus on gender relevant topics supporting their recovery. These advantages of single gender group therapy can increase treatment satisfaction and improve treatment outcomes.


Gender DifferencesAddictionTranslational Research



Selected Publications:

Greenfield SF, Cummings AM, Kuper LE, Wigderson SB, Koro-Ljungberg M. A qualitative analysis of women’s experiences in single-gender versus mixed-gender substance abuse group therapy. Substance Use Misuse 2013;48(9):750-60.

Greenfield SF, Sugarman DE, Freid CM, Bailey GL, Crisafulli MA, Kaufman JS, Wigderson S, Connery HS, Rodolico J, Morgan-Lopez AA, Fitzmaurice G. Group therapy for women with substance use disorders: results from the women's recovery group study. Drug and Alcohol Dependence 2014;142:245-53.

Sugarman DE, Kaufman JS, Trucco EM, Brown JC, Greenfield SF. Predictors of drinking and functional outcomes in men and women following inpatient alcohol treatment. American Journal on Addictions. 2014;23(3):226-33.

PubMed search for Dr. Greenfield

Education & Training:

  • 1979 AB in Biology, Brown University
  • 1986 MD, Harvard Medical School
  • 1992 MPH in Epidemiology, School of Public Health, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
  • 1986-1987 Transitional Internship, McLean Hospital/Massachusetts General Hospital/Mount Auburn Hospital
  • 1987-1990 Residency in Adult Psychiatry, McLean Hospital
  • 1990-1992 Fellow, Health Services Research, Robert Wood Johnson Clinical Scholars Program, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Board Certifications:
  • 1996 Diplomate, Adult Psychiatry with added qualifications in Addiction Psychiatry, American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology




Office Address:

Belmont campus - Proctor House, Room 310