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) 


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Area of Expertise

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

Prize 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

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Turkish women using Instagram for body positivity : a qualitative analysis
Koroglu Melis, Eckler Petya, Tonner Andrea
ECREA 2022 9th European Communication Conference (2022)
Social media influencers as human brands : insights from an analysis of a mega-influencer follower-generated hashtag network on Instagram
Rathnayake Dilan Tharindu, Tonner Andrea, Eckler Petya
Academy of Marketing Conference (2022)
Are images of seized knives an effective crime deterrent? A comparative thematic analysis of young people's views within the Scottish context
Cogan N, Chin-Van Chau Y, Russell K, Linden W, Swinson N, Eckler P, Knifton L, Jordan V, Williams D, Coleman C, Hunter S C
Journal of Youth Studies (2022)
"Too good to be true" : semi-naked bodies on social media
Kleim Anke J, Eckler Petya, Tonner Andrea
Research Anthology on Usage, Identity, and Impact of Social Media on Society and Culture (2022) (2022)
Assembling tribes on Instagram : analysis of a mega-influencer follower-generated hashtag network
Rathnayake Dilan, Tonner Andrea, Eckler Petya
Advances in Consumer Research Vol 49, pp. 108-112 (2022)
The emotional and social impact on young people of using knife seizure images to tackle knife crime : the need for a public health approach
Cogan Nicola, Hunter Simon, Lindon Will, Eckler Petya, Knifton Lee, Russell Kirsten, Williams Damien, Swinson Nicola, Coleman Charlotte
Trinity Health and Education International Research Conference (THEconf2022)

More publications

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  • 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  
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Professional Activities

Representing the Body: Contemporary Discourse and the Real Symposium
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

More professional activities


Impact of knife seizure imagery in Scotland
Cogan, Nicola (Principal Investigator) Williams, Damien (Research Co-investigator) Chau, Chin-Van Yvonne (Researcher) Eckler, Petya (Co-investigator) Swinson, Nicola (Co-investigator) Hunter, Simon (Co-investigator) Knifton, Lee (Co-investigator) Lindon, Will (Co-investigator) Russell, Kirsten (Co-investigator)
A mixed methods collaborative project exploring the impact of images of knives seized by Police Scotland on adults in Scotland.
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

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Dr Petya Eckler
Senior Lecturer
Journalism, Media and Communication

Email: petya.eckler@strath.ac.uk
Tel: 444 8321