Dr Petya Eckler

Senior Lecturer

Journalism, Media and Communication

Personal statement

My primary area of research is health communication through social media.

I currently study how young people use social media and the influences this has on their body image. As social media platforms continue to grow and develop, this insight is very much needed in order to address young people's mounting concerns over their bodies and the repercussions for mental health. 

I have also examined health-related peer-to-peer communication through online platforms and how it influences health attitudes and outcomes. And how hospitals in the United States use social media to communicate with their patients. I have also conducted research in international communication by surveying international journalists about disaster coverage by the media, and advertising, where I have studied viral videos and online customer reviews.

I work with various interdisciplinary groups on campus and am a fellow of the Centre for Health Policy. I am also the founder and coordinator of the Working Group on Body Image and Eating Disorders, which includes academics, clinicians, health charity professionals, bloggers and people with lived experiences. We work on research and public engagement around social media, body image and creating a healthier and more inclusive online environment for young people. Watch our video here, which explores how young people use and feel about social media.

Most recently, I've contributed to several advisory groups on young people and body image, which have produced reports, recommendations and interventions that aim to address this topic. Among them is the Scottish Government's Healthy Body Image for Children and Young People Advisory Group, which produced a detailed report with recommendations in March 2020.  

I give frequent interviews to the media, public talks, and presentations at schools, clinicians’ groups, non-profits, etc. Watch my TEDx talk on the topic.

I welcome applications from PhD students interested in health communication, digital media/social media and health, body image/eating disorders, mental health. 

I currently supervise students working on the following topics: 

  • the concept of the ideal beach body and its relation to women's body image concerns (in collaboration with Marketing) 
  • how organisations engage in crisis communication via online platforms 
  • hesitancy towards childhood vaccinations and its relationship to online media consumption 
  • body positivity empowerment and Instagram (in collaboration with Marketing) 
  • social media addiction (second supervisor in collaboration with Psychology) 
  • identity creation by online influencers (second supervisor in collaboration with Marketing) 
  • fandom, fan fiction and K-pop communities online (second supervisor in collaboration with English) 



Has expertise in:

    • Health communication
    • Social media
    • Body image
    • International communication 
    • Strategic communication/advertising 
    • Quantitative/qualitative methods

Prizes and awards

Runner-up prize in Outstanding Impact for Society
Scottish Student Journalism Awards
Images of Research photo competition
Scottish Student Journalism Awards
Scottish Student Journalism Awards
Scottish Student Journalism Awards

More prizes and awards


Are images of seized knives an effective crime deterrent? Views of young people within the Scottish context
Cogan N, Chin-Van Chau Y, Russell K, Linden W, Eckler P, Swinson N, Knifton L, Williams D, Coleman C, Hunter S C
Is knife seizure imagery an effective crime deterrent? A multi-method study
Cogan N, Chin-Van Chau Y, Russell K, Linden W, Swinson N, Eckler P, Knifton L, Jordan V, Williams D, Carney S, Sharp M, Hunter S C
22nd Annual Conference of European Society of Criminology (2021)
#HealthySocialMedia : Building Positive Body Image on Social Media – Spring 2019
Cameron Julie, Eckler Petya
How healthy are health posts on Instagram? A content analysis of #healthyliving and #healthylifestyle posts
Eckler Petya, Tonner Andrea
European Conference on Health Communication (2019)
"Too good to be true" : semi-naked bodies on social media
Kleim Anke J, Eckler Petya, Tonner Andrea
Handbook of Research on Deception, Fake News, and Misinformation Online (2019) (2019)
The digital self online : Analysis of self-presentation on Instagram
Eckler Petya
Scottish Eating Disorder Conference (2019)

More publications


  • Journalism, year 1  
  • News writing, year 2    
  • Journalism Portfolio, year 4/honours  
  • Producing Media, masters 
  • Strategic Communication, masters 
  • Media and Health, year 4/honours & masters  

Professional activities

Advisor for Media Mindful campaign
Social media and body image: An evolving relationship
European Journal of Health Communication (External organisation)
Image Manipulation Apps & Software as an Emerging Public Health Issue round table discussion
Social media and body image: A new relationship?

More professional activities


Health Literacy in Crisis: gender-based violence among Syrian refugees (Newton Funds)
Eckler, Petya (Principal Investigator)
01-Jan-2017 - 31-Jan-2018
Body Image and Social Media: Research and Practice in a Changing Environment
Eckler, Petya (Principal Investigator) Tonner, Andrea (Co-investigator) Cameron, Julie (Co-investigator)
The grant provided seed money for intensifying the impact of knowledge exchange activities related to my research on body image. Awarded £3,510.
01-Jan-2016 - 30-Jan-2019
Exploring access to mental health care services for linguistically and culturally diverse patients
Perez, Isabelle (Principal Investigator) Angelelli, Claudia (Principal Investigator) Wilson, Christine (Co-investigator) Quinn, Neil (Co-investigator) Eckler, Petya (Co-investigator) Knifton, Lee (Co-investigator) Mowatt, Louise (Co-investigator) Hattie, Mary (Co-investigator)
01-Jan-2014 - 30-Jan-2015

More projects


Journalism, Media and Communication
Lord Hope Building

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