Dr Petya Eckler

Senior Lecturer

Journalism, Media and Communication

Personal statement

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

I have studied how using Facebook relates to body image and eating attitudes among young women and have led a team of experts to propose a research agenda for the area of social media, body image and eating disorders. 

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.

I give frequent interviews to the media, public talks about social media and body image/mental health, and presentations at schools, clinicians’ groups, etc. Watch my TEDx talk on the topic.

My professional experience includes working as an assistant editor, managing editor, health writer, reporter, and copy editor for various publications in the United States and Bulgaria, and as a public relations coordinator at the American University in Bulgaria.

I currently supervise two doctoral students, who work on the topics of the beach body and body image, and on crisis communication and social media. I welcome applications from PhD students interested in health communication, digital media/social media and health, body image, eating disorders, mental health, advertising, public relations or strategic communication (with or without a health focus).



Has expertise in:

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

Prizes and awards

Scottish Student Journalism Awards
Images of Research photo competition
Scottish Student Journalism Awards
Scottish Student Journalism Awards
Scottish Student Journalism Awards
2013 Outstanding Reviewer award

More prizes and awards


"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)
Body image and social media : cross-cultural comparison between Kazakhstan and USA
Kalyango Jr. Yusuf, Eckler Petya, Smith Stephanie, Misayeva Karlyga
7th European Communication Conference (2018)
Exploring a role for positive body image in social media use
Tonner Andrea, Eckler Petya, Cameron Julie, Kleim Anke
7th European Communication Conference (2018)
Digital media and eating disorders : future directions for impactful research
Eckler Petya, Tonner Andrea, Cameron Julie, Kleim Anke, McAlinden Stephanie, Rifay Halilna, Munro Charles, Oakley Charlotte, Preston Sara, Riley Sarah
7th European Communication Conference (2018)
What motivates young adults to talk about physical activity on social network sites?
Zhang Ni, Campo Shelly, Yang Jingzhen, Eckler Petya, Snetselaar Linda, Janz Kathleen F, Leary Emily
Journal of Medical Internet Research Vol 19 (2017)
Using a collaborative approach to develop research questions
Tonner Andrea, Eckler Petya
9th EIASM Workshop on Interpretive Consumer Research (2017)

More publications


  • Journalism 1b (first year) 
  • Journalism 2 (second year) 
  • Journalism Portfolio (fourth year, honours) 
  • Producing Media (post-graduate) 

Professional activities

Body Image, Disordered Eating and Social Media
Body Image, Disordered Eating and Social Media
Social media and body image: A complex relationship
European Researcher Night 2017
Body Image and Eating Disorders: Future Research Priorities
Engage with Strathclyde 2016

More professional activities


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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