University of Calgary

Deinera Exner-Cortens

  • Assistant Professor
  • Tier II CRC Childhood Health

Research Background and Interests

Deinera Exner-Cortens is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Psychology, Faculty of Arts, University of Calgary, and is jointly appointed to the Department of Psychiatry, Cumming School of Medicine, University of Calgary. Dr. Exner-Cortens is also a full member in the Alberta Children’s Hospital Research Institute (ACHRI) and the O’Brien Institute for Public Health, and an Associate Member in the Mathison Centre for Mental Health Research and Education. She holds a PhD in Developmental Psychology (Cornell University) and a Master of Public Health (Boston University). Dr. Exner-Cortens completed her CIHR-funded post-doctoral work at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health's Centre for Prevention Science and with Shift: The Project to End Domestic Violence in the University of Calgary's Faculty of Social Work. 

Dr. Exner-Cortens' research focuses on 1) evaluating healthy relationships/mental health promotion activities in school and community settings, 2) developing and evaluating implementation support tools for school-based mental health/healthy relationships service delivery; and 3) prevention of adolescent dating violence. In her work, Dr. Exner-Cortens collaborates with a number of community and research partners both provincially and nationally. Dr. Exner-Cortens’ teaching interests include research methods, youth development, and social determinants of health. She is also committed to student participation in research. Dr. Exner-Cortens currently holds an Early Career Award in Supporting Child and Youth Mental Health Outcomes in Alberta School Settings, sponsored by Alberta Health Services/PolicyWise.

Current Research

I am currently leading a five-year, mixed-methods evaluation (including quantitative, qualitative and arts-based methodologies) of a gender-transformative program for adolescent boys that aims to promote healthy relationships and positive mental health, funded by the Public Health Agency of Canada. I am also leading a SSHRC-funded study that will develop and evaluate a social-network informed coaching model to promote school-based mental health service delivery, and a PolicyWise-funded study working to develop gatekeeper intervention training for teachers as part of school-based suicide prevention. Finally, I am collaborating on a Public Health Agency of Canada funded-project that will evaluate initiatives to promote the healthy relationships capacity of pre-service teachers and social workers.

Student Supervision

I am accepting students for Fall 2020.

Selected Publications

*denotes trainee

Exner-Cortens, D., Spiric, V., Crooks, C. V., *Syeda, M., & Wells, L. (2019). Predictors of youth healthy relationships program implementation quality in a sample of Canadian middle school teachers. Canadian Journal of School Psychology. Advance online publication. doi: 10.1177/0829573519857422

Exner-Cortens, D., Wells, L., Lee, L., & Spiric, V. (2019).  Building a culture of intimate partner violence prevention in Alberta, Canada through the promotion of healthy youth relationships. Prevention Science. Advance online publication. doi: 10.1007/s11121-019-01011-7

Exner-Cortens, D., Hurlock, D., *Wright, A., Carter, R., & Krause, P. (2019). Preliminary evaluation of a gender-transformative healthy relationships program for adolescent boys. Psychology of Men and Masculinity. Advance online publication. doi:10.1037/men0000204

Exner-Cortens, D., Wolfe, D. A., Crooks, C. V., & Chiodo, D. (2019). A preliminary randomized controlled evaluation of a universal healthy relationships program for youth. Canadian Journal of School Psychology. Advance online publication. doi: 10.1177/10829573518821508

Crooks, C. V., Jaffe, P. G., *Dunlop, C., *Kerry, A., & Exner-Cortens, D. (2019). Preventing gender-based violence among adolescents and young adults: Lessons from 25 years of program development and evaluation. Violence Against Women. Advance online publication. doi:10.1177/1077801218815778

Corcoran, L., Exner-Cortens, D., & Wells, L. (2019) Advancing Healthy and Socially Just Schools and Communities: An interdisciplinary graduate program. International Journal of Teaching and Learning in Higher Education31(2), 287-298.

Jenney, A., & Exner-Cortens, D. (2018). Toxic masculinity and mental health in young women: An analysis of Thirteen Reasons Why we need to be talking about consent and sexual violence when considering acts of self-harm. Affilia. Advance online publication. doi:10.1177/0886109918762492 

Crooks, C. V., Exner-Cortens, D., Siebold, W., Moore, K., Grassgreen, L., Owen, P., Rausch, A., & Rosier, M. (2018). The role of relationships in collaborative partnership success: Lessons from the Alaska Fourth R project. Evaluation and Program Planning, 67, 97-104. 

Exner-Cortens, D., & Cummings, N. (2017). Bystander-based sexual violence prevention with college athletes: A pilot randomized controlled trial. Journal of Interpersonal Violence. Advance online publication. doi:10.1177/0886260517733279

Crooks, C. V., Exner-Cortens, D., *Burm, S., *Lapointe, A., & Chiodo, D. (2017). Mentoring for First Nations, Métis and Inuit adolescents: Promoting positive mental health. Journal of Primary Prevention, 38, 87-104.

Exner-Cortens, D., Eckenrode, J., Bunge, J., & Rothman, E. (2017). Re-victimization after physical and psychological adolescent dating violence in a matched, national sample of youth. Journal of Adolescent Health, 60, 176-183.

Claussen, C., Wells, L., Exner-Cortens, D., Abboud, R., & Turner, A. (2016). The role of community-based organizations in school-based violence prevention programming: An action research project. Cogent Social Sciences, 2, 1238609. 

Exner-Cortens, D., *Gill, L., & Eckenrode, J. (2016a). Measurement of adolescent dating violence: A comprehensive review (Part 1, Behaviors). Aggression and Violent Behavior, 27, 64-78. 

Exner-Cortens, D., *Gill, L., & Eckenrode, J. (2016b). Measurement of adolescent dating violence: A comprehensive review (Part 2, Attitudes). Aggression and Violent Behavior, 27, 93-106. 

Whitlock, J., Exner-Cortens, D., & Purington, A. (2014). Assessment of non-suicidal self-injury: Development and initial validation of the Non-Suicidal Self-Injury Assessment Tool (NSSI-AT). Psychological Assessment, 26, 935-946.

Exner-Cortens, D. (2014). Theory and teen dating violence victimization: Considering adolescent development.Developmental Review, 34, 168-188.


  • - Developmental Psychology
    Cornell University, 2014
  • MA - Human Development
    Cornell University, 2011
  • MPH - Social and Behavioral Science
    Boston University, 2009
  • BSc - Cellular, Molecular & Microbial Biology
    University of Calgary, 2007
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