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Bonnie N. Kaiser (Bronwyn)

Bonnie Kaiser is an Associate Professor jointly appointed in the Department of Anthropology and Global Health Program. Her research focuses on elucidating cultural models of mental health and illness and exploring their connections to care-seeking; developing and adapting measurement tools for cross-cultural research and interventions; improving cultural adaptation of global mental health interventions; and critically exploring concepts of trauma, risk, and resilience. Her scholarship balances critical and constructive engagement with the field of global mental health, advancing both theory in psychological anthropology and practice in global mental health. She conducts rigorous mixed-methods studies with multidisciplinary engagement, drawing on her training as an anthropologist (PhD), epidemiologist (MPH), and global health implementation scientist (postdoc). Her research balances deep ethnographic engagement in her primary field sites of Haiti and Kenya with mixed-methods and multi-sited research in other global regions, including in Nepal, Ethiopia, and Nigeria.

Her major research interests are Haiti, Kenya, psychological anthropology, global mental health, implementation science, idioms of distress, and cultural adaptation



  • BA in Anthropology and Psychology, University of Notre Dame (2008)
  • MA in Anthropology, Emory University (2012)
  • MPH in Epidemiology, Emory University (2015)
  • PhD in Anthropology, Emory University (2015)
  • Postdoctoral Fellowship in Global Mental Health and Implementation Science, Duke University (2015-2018)

Kaiser, B., Hruschka, D., and Hadley, C. 2017. Measuring wealth in low-income settings: A conceptual and how-to guide. American Journal of Human Biology 29(4). doi: 10.1002/ajhb.22987.

Hennink, M., Kaiser, B., and Marconi, V. 2016. Code Saturation vs. Meaning Saturation: How Many Interviews Are Enough? Qualitative Health Research. e-pub ahead of print. doi: 10.1177/1049732316665344.

Kaiser, B., Haroz, E., Kohrt, B., Bolton, P., Bass, J., and Hinton, D. 2015. Thinking too much: A systematic review of a common idiom of distress. Social Science & Medicine 147: 170–183. doi: 10.1016/j.socscimed.2015.10.044.

Kaiser, B. and McLean, K. 2015. “Thinking too much” in the Central Plateau: An apprenticeship approach to treating local distress in Haiti. In B. Kohrt and E. Mendenhall (eds) Global Mental Health: Anthropological Perspectives. Walnut Creek, CA: Left Coast Press. 277–290.

Kaiser, B., Keys, H., Foster, J., and Kohrt, B. 2015. Social stressors, social support, and mental health among Haitian migrants in the Dominican Republic. Revista Panamericana de Salud Pública/Pan American Journal of Public Health 38(2): 157-162.

Kaiser, B., Kohrt, B., Wagenaar, B., Kramer, M. McLean, K., Hagaman, A., Khoury, N., and Keys, H. 2015. Scale properties of an ethnographically-grounded idioms of distress screener in rural Haiti: Association with depression, anxiety, and sociocultural risk factors. International Journal of Culture and Mental Health 8(4): 341-358. doi: 10.1080/17542863.2015.1015580.

Kaiser, B., McLean, K., Kohrt, B., Hagaman, A., Wagenaar, B., Khoury, N., and Keys, H. 2014. Reflechi twòp - thinking too much: Description of a cultural syndrome in Haiti’s Central Plateau. Culture, Medicine, & Psychiatry 38(3): 448-472. doi: 10.1007/s11013-014-9380-0.

Kohrt, B., Rasmussen, A., Kaiser, B., Haroz, E., Maharjan, S., Mutamba-Byamah, B., de Jong, J., and Hinton, D. 2014. Cultural Concepts of Distress and Psychiatric Disorders: Literature Review and Research Recommendations for Global Mental Health Epidemiology. Invited for special issue of International Journal of Epidemiology 43(2): 365-406. doi: 10.1093/ije/dyt227.

Kaiser, B., Kohrt, B., Keys, H., Khoury, N., & Brewster, A. 2013. Strategies for assessing mental health in Haiti: Local instrument development and transcultural translation. Transcultural Psychiatry 15(4): 532-558. doi: 10.1177/1363461513502697.

Keys, H., Kaiser, B., Kohrt, B., Khoury, N., & Brewster, A. 2012. Idioms of distress, ethnopsychology, and the clinical encounter in rural Haiti. Social Science & Medicine 75(3): 555-564. doi:10.1016/j.socscimed.2012.03.040.

Khoury, N., Kaiser, B., Brewster, A., Keys, H., & Kohrt, B. 2012. Explanatory models and mental health treatment: Is Vodou an obstacle to psychiatric treatment in rural Haiti? Culture, Medicine, & Psychiatry 36(3):514-34. doi:10.1007/s11013-11012-19270-11012.

To view a full list of publications, go to

Trauma and Spiritual Insecurity: Suffering, resilience, and mental health in rural Haiti

Funding: NSF BCS-1260270 Doctoral Dissertation Research Improvement Grant ($25,182), Emory Global Health Institute ($25,500), Duke Global Health Institute ($4,000)

Since 2010, I have led multiple graduate student teams and conducted independent research in Haiti’s Central Plateau. My teams explored cultural models of mental health and illness, including connections to Vodou concepts and to care-seeking. I also led the development and adaptation of measurement tools for mental illness, which have been used in epidemiologic studies and mental health programs. I collaborated with Zanmi Lasante/Partners in Health on their cultural adaptation of global mental health interventions and assessment tools. Finally, I critically examine concepts of trauma, risk, and resilience, as I examine meaning-making in the context of social and spiritual suffering.

Exploring Stress and Resilience among Women in Haiti

With Kathy Walmer (Family Health Ministries), David Walmer (Duke University), and Schatzi McCarthy (Family Health Ministries)

Funding: Emory Global Health Institute ($12,000), Duke University Student Research Training Program ($40,000)

This research collaboration between Emory and Duke Global Health Institutes uses a mixed-methods design to examine women’s perceptions and experiences of distress and to understand male partners’ perspectives regarding these stressors. Additionally, the research aims to inform the cultural adaptation of evidence-based interventions for reproductive and mental health of women in Léogáne, Haiti, with the goals of strengthening couples’ communication and shared decision-making and improving women’s mental health outcomes.  

Community-sourced Interventions for Global Mental Health

With Eve Puffer (Duke University) and David Ayuku (Moi University)

Funding: NIMH F32 MH113288 ($125,232), Duke University Bass Connections ($90,000), Trent Foundation Endowment Fund (Duke University, $5,000)

This research collaboration began during my postdoctoral fellowship, which supported individual training in Implementation Science. My mentored research entailed conducting an implementation-effectiveness hybrid study of a family therapy intervention in Eldoret, Kenya. This research also tests a novel approach to community-based adaptation of a psychological intervention in Kenya, by exploring whether practices spontaneously used by lay counselors could be incorporated formally into the intervention.

Food insecurity and mental health in global perspective: Testing the contribution of social and nutritional pathways

With Lesley Jo Weaver (University of Oregon) and Craig Hadley (Emory University)

Funding: NSF 1560458 ($116,443)

This research examines food insecurity and mental health, two pressing global health concerns, in three rapidly developing communities in Brazil, Ethiopia, and Haiti. It explores how the mental health burdens of food insecurity are differentially driven by nutritional concerns and social meaning of foods, for example shame about eating socially stigmatized foods.

Optimizing Provider Attitudes and Competence in Learning Mental Health Systems (OPAL)

With Brandon Kohrt (George Washington University), Eshetu Girma (Addis Ababa University), and Nagendra Luitel (Transcultural Psychosocial Organization), MPIs

Funding: NIMH R21 MH111280-01 ($363,722)

This project examines mental illness stigma among primary care providers in Nepal and Ethiopia, including a novel focus on structural stigma. Additionally, it aims to develop and test an intervention package for stigma reduction in low-resource health settings that involves service users participating in training of primary care providers.

Developing mental health assessment tools and examining needs of IDPs in Nigeria

With the Gede Foundation, Abuja, Nigeria

Funding: Catholic Relief Services

This research was conducted in collaboration with a mental health focused NGO seeking to expand availability of mental health care in Nigeria. One project focused on adaptation and validation of mental health screening tools for children in the Federal Capital Territory. The validation process was novel, as it was conducted simultaneously in the languages of Hausa and Pidgin. The second study entailed identifying mental health and psychosocial support needs among internally displaced persons (IDPs) affected by Boko Haram in Maiduguri, Nigeria.

Implementation Research Institute Fellow (2018-2020)

Charles Hughes Fellowship in Cultural Psychiatry (2012)

Emory University/Howard Hughes Medical Institute Teacher-Scholar Award (2011)