Contact Information

Dean's Professor, Social Work and Preventive Medicine & Associate Vice Provost for Community Research Initiatives
University of Southern California
Department School of Social Work
ATT 14th Floor
T-320 M/C 0411
Los Angeles, CA 90089-0411
United States of America

Office (213) 740-2711
Fax (213) 740-0789

Membership Information

Membership Category:
Research Scientists

Member Since: 2000


Hortensia Amaro, Ph.D.

Hortensia Amaro, Ph.D.


Ph.D. University of California, Los Angeles
M.A. University of California, Los Angeles
B.A. University of California, Los Angeles

Research Statement

Dr. Amaro received her doctoral degree from the University of California at Los Angeles in 1982 and was awarded an Honorary Doctoral Degree in Humane Letters by Simmons College in 1994. Over the past 25 years, Dr. Amaro’s work has focused on improving the connections between public health research and public health practice. Her research has resulted in over 100 scientific publications. Her work has focused on epidemiological and community-based studies of alcohol and drug use among adolescents and adults; the development and testing of behavioral interventions for HIV/AIDS prevention; substance abuse and mental health treatment for Latina and African American women and incarcerated men; alcohol and drug use among college populations, and behavioral interventions for HIV medications adherence. She has served on the editorial board of prominent scientific journals such as the American Journal of Public Health and on review and advisory committees to the National Institutes of Health including: the National Institute on Drug Abuse; the National Institute on Mental Health; the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services; and the Institute of Medicine.

After joining Northeastern in 2001, Dr. Amaro established the Institute on Urban Health Research (IUHR) to promote interdisciplinary and community-based research that leads to a better understanding of the causes of disease and racial and ethnic health disparities, and to develop and test strategies that improve health in urban communities. Research at IUHR has focused on health conditions that disproportionately affect urban and minority populations including: substance abuse, mental illness, inter-personal violence, HIV risk behaviors, discrimination in health care, and obesity among others. IUHR partners with local, regional and national organizations to sponsor public and scientific forums on current urban health issues.

Dr. Amaro’s “Love, Sex and Power” published in the American Psychologist, had a wide ranging impact on the field of HIV prevention among women and for which she received the 1996 Scientific Publication Award by the National Association of Women in Psychology. This publication was based on her keynote address for the 1993 Award for Distinguished Contributors to Psychology in the Public Interest: Early Career Award by the American Psychological Association. She later developed the only HIV prevention intervention to date with proven effectiveness among Latina women. More recently, her studies on clinical strategies for treatment of women with co-occurring drug addiction, mental illness and post-traumatic stress disorder provided evidence in support of integrated treatment for these conditions. This work demonstrated that compared to women receiving traditional drug addiction treatment, women receiving integrated treatment stayed in treatment longer; had lower rates of post-treatment drug use, mental health symptoms and trauma symptoms; and had lower rates of HIV risk behaviors. Her work on HIV prevention and substance abuse treatment has made significant contributions to policy and to practice through the publication of practice-based scientific articles and dissemination of treatment manuals being used by community agencies.

About Me

Dr. Amaro also has a history of active engagement as a founder of numerous professional organizations and community based service agencies including the National Hispanic Psychological Association, National Hispanic Science Network on Drug Abuse Research, National Trauma Consortium, Latino Health Institute and the Multicultural AIDS Coalition in Boston. She is also the founder of three substance abuse treatment programs for women in Boston: The MOM’s Project, the Entre Familia Residential Treatment Program, and MORE, an intensive outpatient treatment program for women with co-occurring disorders.

Dr. Amaro’s professional contributions have been recognized by numerous organizations including the American Psychological Association, the Association of Women in Psychology, the Massachusetts Public Health Association, Addiction Medicine Education, Research and Services Association, Hispanic Mental Health Professional Association, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, National Hispanic Science Network on Drug Abuse Research, Massachusetts School of Professional Psychology, and numerous community health organizations in Boston. She also served as a Distinguished Visiting Professor in Women's Health at Ben Gurion University in Israel. Appointed by Mayor Thomas Menino, Dr. Amaro has served on the Board of the Boston Public Health Commission, the governing body of the city health department, since its inception. In 2005, she was named one of the 100 most influential Hispanics by Hispanic Business Magazine.

Dr. Amaro’s own journey as a refugee and immigrant to the U.S. has significantly impacted her life and informed her scholarly and community work in public health. In her free time, Dr. Amaro enjoys long distance cycling, kayaking, practicing and teaching yoga, Latin dancing, and summer gardening in her Cape Cod home.

View Curriculum Vitae

Recent Publications

Reed, E., Amaro, H. Matsumoto, A. & Kaysen, D. (2008). Interpersonal violence among a sample of university students: Relation to substance use and relevance of context. Addictive Behaviors, In press.

Christensen, M., Amaro, H,., Glovsky, E., Nieves, R. (2008). Unhealthy weight gain during treatment for alcohol and drug use in four residential programs for Latina and African American women. Substance Use and Misuse, (in press).

Arévalo, S., Prado, W., & Amaro, H. (2006). Spirituality, sense of coherence and coping responses in women receiving treatment for alcohol and drug addiction. Evaluation and Program Planning, 31(1), 113-123.

Amaro, H., Dai, J., Arevalo, S., Acevedo, A., Matsumoto, A., & Nieves, R.(2007). Effects of integrated trauma treatment on outcomes in a racially/ethnically diverse sample of women in urban community-based substance abuse treatment. Journal of Urban Health, 84(4), 508-522.