Faculty & Staff


Conner, Kyaien, PHD

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Title: Professor
Phone: (813) 974-7028
Office: MHC 2731D
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Curriculum Vitae

Dr. Kyaien Conner, LSW, MPH, PhD is an assistant professor in the department of Mental Health Law and Policy. Her research investigates the factors that influence disparities in mental health service utilization and treatment outcomes for African American elders with depression.. For several years Dr. has worked as a licensed community-based mental health practitioner in predominantly low-income African American communities, where she witnessed disparities in mental health diagnosis and treatment, mistrust in the mental health service delivery system and negative attitudes toward seeking mental health treatment.

Dr. Conner received her PhD at the University of Pittsburgh in Social Work. Before coming to the College of Behavioral and Community Studies she was an assistant professor of Psychiatry at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine. Dr. Conner completed a post-doctoral fellowship at Western Psychiatric Institute and Clinic (WPIC) at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine in their Clinical Training in Geriatric Psychiatry Program.

Dr. Conner is currently the PI of a K23 funded by the National Institute of Mental Health. The purpose of the K23 is to enable Dr. Conner to develop the skills necessary to achieve her long-term goal, which is to become an independent clinical mental health services researcher, focusing on developing and testing effective, culturally relevant interventions to help engage and retain older adults in multi-session psychosocial treatments for mood disorders. Her K23 project involves integrating an effective treatment for late life depression (cognitive behavioral therapy) with effective, culturally relevant strategies to engage and retain older adults in mental health treatment. What is most exciting about this project is the utilization of peer educators to provide the engagement intervention, which is innovative and culturally compatible with the beliefs and preferences of African American elders.

Dr. Conner has received a number of awards and honors for her work in the field of aging. In 2008, Dr. Conner received the GIAging Fellowship Award from Grant makers In Aging for her research with depressed elders of color. In 2009, Dr. Conner was selected by the National Institute of Health to be a participant in their Loan Repayment Program in the Health Disparities Program. And in 2009, Dr. Conner was selected to be a partner in the New Ventures in Leadership program sponsored by the American Society on Aging.

Research Projects

Recent Publications

*Johnson, A., & Conner, K.O. (In Press). It Gets Better with Time: The Perception of Stigma Among Older Adults with Chronic Physical Illness and in Recovery from Mental Health Condition. American Journal of Undergraduate Research.
Xiaxia, S., Meng, H., Ye, Z., Conner, K., Duan, Z. & Liu, D. (In Press). Factors associated with the choice of primary care facilities for initial treatment among rural and urban residents in Southwestern China. Social Science and Medicine.
Gavin, A., Grote, N., & Conner, K.O. (In Press). Preterm birth weights among African American women: The important role of PTSD. Journal of Health Disparities Research and Practice.
Meng, H., Conner, K.O., Marino, V.R., Sharma, D., Davis, W.S., & Glueckauf, R.L. (In Press). Tele-Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for African-American Dementia Caregivers with Depression: Cost Analysis. Ethnicity and Health.
Conner, K.O., Gum, A., Schonfeld, L., Baker-Douglin, J., Meng, H., Beckstead,J., Brown, C., & Reynolds, C. (2018). Peer support as a strategy for reducing hospital readmissions among older adults with chronic medical illness and depression. Journal of Mental Health and Aging.
Conner, K.O., Cadet, M., Brown, M., & *Barnett, J. (2018). The impact of peer support on risk of future hospital readmissions among older adults with a medical illness and cooccurring  depression. Social Sciences.
Conner, K.O., Yu, L., Pilkonis, P., Rigg, K., Meng, H. & Brown, C. (2018). Examination of the Attitudes Toward Seeking Mental Health Treatment Scale: Reliability, Validity and Item Response Theory Analysis. Journal of Cultural Diversity and Ethnic Minority Psychology.
Liu D, Meng H, Dobbs D, Conner K.O., Hyer K, Li N, Ren X, Gao B (2017). Crosssectional study of factors associated with community health centre use in a recently urbanised community in Chengdu, China. BMJ Open. Jun 8;7(6):e014510.
Conner, K.O., *Johnson, A. Cadet, T., C. & Brown, C. (2017). Giving Back to Their Communities: Serving as a Peer Educator Increases Productive Engagement for African American Elders in Recovery. The Gerontologist.
*McKinnon, S., Conner, K.O., *Roker, R., Ward, C., & Brown, C. (2017). The reduction of public and internalized stigma in late-life depression: A pilot study. Journal of Applied
Conner, K.O., *McKinnon, S., *Roker, R., Ward, C. & Brown, C. (2016). Mitigating the stigma of mental illness among older adults with depression: The Benefit of Contact with a Peer Educator. Stigma and Health.
Conner, K.O., McKinnon, S., *Roker, R., Ward, C. & Brown, C. (In Press). Mitigating the Stigma of Mental Illness among Older Adults with Depression: The Benefit of Contact with a Peer Educator. Stigma and Health.
Conner, K.O., Copeland, V., Grote, N., & Brown, C (2015). Stigma: impact on mental health and people of color. In V. Copeland (Ed) Contemporary Issues for People of Color: Surviving and Thriving in the U.S. Today, Volume 4: Health and Wellness. Greenwood, 2015

Conner, K.O., McKinnon, S., Ward, C., Reynolds, C.F. & Brown, C. (2015). Peer Education as Strategy for Reducing Stigma among Depressed Older Adults. Psychiatric Rehabilitation Journal, 38(2):186-93.

McMurray, M., Conner, K.O., & Brown, C. (2012). Toward cultural adaptation of interpersonal psychotherapy for depressed African American primary care patients. In G. Bernal and M. Domenech Rodriguez (Eds.) Cultural Adaptations: Tools for Evidence-Based Practice with Diverse Populations.

Kasckow, J., Ingram, E., Brown, C., Tew, J., Conner, K.O., Morse, J., Haas, G., Reynolds, C., Oslin, D. (2011). Differences in Treatment Attitudes between African American and Caucasian Primary Care Veterans. Psychiatric Services, 62(4), 426-429.

Conner, K.O., Carr Copeland, V., Grote, N., Koeske, G., Rosen, D., Reynolds, C., Albert, S., & Brown, C. (2010). Barriers to Treatment and Cultural Coping Strategies among Depressed African American Elders. Journal of Aging and Mental Health, 14(8), 971-983

Brown, C., Conner, K.O., Carr Copeland, V., Grote, N., Beach, S., Schlarb, J., & Reynolds, C.F. (2010). Depression, race and treatment seeking behavior and attitudes. Journal of Community Psychology, 8(3), 350-368.

Conner, K.O., Carr Copeland, V., Grote, N., Koeske, G., Rosen, D., Reynolds, C., & Brown, C. (2010). Mental Health Treatment Seeking Among Older Adults with Depression: The Impact of Stigma and Race. American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry, 18(6), 531-543.

Conner, K.O., Rosen, D., Wexler, S., & Brown, C. (2010). “ It’s like night and day. He’s Black. I’m White”: Shared Stigmas between Counselors and Older Adult Methadone Clients. Best Practices in Mental Health: An International Journal, 6 (1), 17-32.

Conner, K.O., Lee, B., Robinson, D., Mayers, V., Reynolds, C., Albert, S., & Brown, C. (2010). Attitudes and beliefs about mental health among African American older adults with depression. The Journal of Aging Studies, 24(4), 266-277.

Conner, K.O., Koeske, G., & Brown, C. (2009). Racial differences in attitudes toward seeking mental health treatment: The mediating effect of stigma in an aging population. The Journal of Gerontological Social Work, 52(7), 695-712.

Newhill, C., Eack, S., & Conner, K.O. (2009). Racial differences in the presentation of emotional dysregulation in borderline personality disorder. Journal of Race and Social Problems, 1, 87-96.

Garland, L., Hagerty, J., Conner, K.O., & Dew, M. (2009). Diagnostic labels, stigma, and participation in research related to cognitive impairment. Research in Gerontological Nursing, 2(2), 112-21.

Conner, K.O. & Grote, N.K. (2008). A model for enhancing the cultural relevance of empirically-supported mental health interventions. Families in Society,89(4),1-9.

Conner, K.O. & Rosen, D. (2008). “You’re nothing but a junkie”: The multiple experiences of stigma in an aging methadone maintenance population. Journal of Social Work Practice in the Addictions, 8(2), 244-264.

Rosen, D., Tolman, R.M., Warner, L., and Conner, K.O. (2007). Racial differences in mental health service utilization among low-income women. Social Work in Public Health, 23(2/3), 89-105.