Health and Digital Communication

Pro-Anorexia and Social Media

Managing Stigma: Exploring Disclosure-Response Communication Patterns on Pro-Anorexia Websites

Investigators: Pamara Chang, Natalie Bazarova

Description: Pro-anorexic websites are controversial yet rapidly growing online communities. Utilizing the theoretical framework of stigma disclosures and online negative enabling support groups, this study investigates the interactions between people on these sites by examining the relationship between initiating messages and responses to them in a pro-anorexic discussion board. We also explore the communicative changes of the initial discloser within an interaction exchange. This study has important implications for our understanding of online health communities in which stigmatized individuals seek support, and expand our comprehension of the role of stigmatized self-disclosures and responses.


Chang, P.F., & Bazarova, N.N. (2014). Managing stigma: Exploring disclosure-response communication patterns in pro-anorexic websites. Paper to be presented at the 64th Annual conference of the International Communication Association, Seattle, WA, May 22-26.

Chang, P.F & Bazarova, N.N. (2015). Managing stigma: Exploring disclosure-response communication patterns in pro-Anorexic websites. Health Communication.

Media: The Pro-Ana Wars: Why Thinspiration Continues to Infect Social Media by Sarah Devlin in Teen Vogue.

Pro-Anorexic Disclosures on Twitter vs. LiveJournal: Exploring Differences in Self-Disclosure Characteristics

Investigators: Pamara Chang, Rannie Teodoro (Rutgers University)

Description: Given the rise in pro-anorexic individuals’ utilization of social media, it is imperative to investigate the multifaceted uses and goals to understand the implications of pro-anorexic behaviors online from a social and psychological perspective. The technological affordances of social media (Twitter and LiveJournal) create both challenges against and opportunities for pro-anorexics in shaping their own online behavior in the digital era. We are currently examining these characteristics of pro-anorexic self-disclosures in two different contexts.

Publications: Teodoro, R. & Chang, P.F. (2014). A comparison of pro-Anorexic disclosures across the online contexts of LiveJournal and Twitter. Poster presented at the 100th Annual Conference of the National Communication Association, Chicago, IL, November 20-23.

Chronic Pain, mHealth, and Older Adults

Chronic Pain Management Project(s)

Investigators: Pamara Chang, Natalie Bazarova, Geri Gay, Drew Margolin, Phil Adams, Jeff Niederdeppe, Elaine Wethington (Cornell University), Cary Reid (Weill Cornell Medical College)

Description: This project is grounded in the fields of Communication, Information Science, Gerontology, and Clinical Studies. This interdisciplinary approach focuses on the methodological and assessment challenges to measuring pain for older adults as well as the interpersonal influences of pain management. The projects’ aim is three-fold: 1) Investigate optimal recognition of chronic pain momentary assessment, 2) Establish the day-to-day fluctuations in pain experience and its correlation to social contact and network patterns 3) Examine management of chronic pain in daily interactions by analyzing disclosure content and consequences in different communication channels.

Funding: Grant from the Translational Institute for Pain Later in Life, Weill Cornell Medical Center

Pain and Social Support (PASS) Project

Investigators: Pamara Chang, Geri Gay (Cornell University), Cary Reid (Weill Cornell Medical College), Jamie Guillory (University of Californa, San Francisco)

Description: This study extends findings from an earlier experiment, which demonstrated that minor surgery patients had reduced need for intraoperative fentanyl when they were able to communicate with a supportive person during their surgery compared to people who played a video game distraction or did nothing (standard surgery). Here we seek to determine whether social support accessed via SMS text message also reduces patients’ experience of daily chronic pain.

Publications: Guillory, J., Chang, P.F., Henderson, C., Shengelia, R., Lama, S., Warmington, M., Maryam, J., Gay, G., & Reid, MC. (2015). Piloting a text message-based social support intervention for patients with chronic pain. The Clinical Journal of PainSpecial Issue on Innovative Delivery of Pain Management.

Older Adults and Well-Being

Online Social Networking Across the Life Span

Investigators: Natalie Bazarova, Pamara Chang, Yoon Hyung Choi, Corinna Loeckenhoff

Description: Utilizing Socioemotional Selectivity Theory, we wanted to examine the patterns of online social networking use across the life span through a nationally representative sample of demographically diverse Facebook users. To explore the effects of age on online social networking on social networking sites, we took data that was collected through a national telephone survey, with a sample of 1000 adults, ranging from 18 years to 93 years old. We looked at age differences in their network composition, their use of social networking sites, and the relationship between social network composition and social isolation and loneliness.


Bazarova, N.N.Chang, P.Choi, Y.H., & Loeckenhoff, C.E. (2013). Online social networking across the life span: Extending socioemotional selectivity theory to social network sites. Paper presented at the 2013 AAAI Conference on Weblogs and Social Media (ICWSM ’13).

Chang, P.F., Choi, Y.H., Bazarova, N.N., & Loeckenhoff, C.E. (2015). Online social networking across the life span: Extending socioemotional selectivity theory to social networking sites. Journal of Broadcasting and Electronic Media.

Stigma, Health, and Digital Communication


Investigators: Pamara Chang, Geri Gay (Cornell University), Jamie Guillory, Pamela Ling, Janice Tsoh (University of California, San Francisco)

Description: We are collaborating with researchers at University of California at San Francisco for a project that focuses on using ecological momentary assessment (EMA) methods to study smoking urges and behaviors among nondaily and light daily smokers. The motivations and cravings underlying nondaily smoking behaviors are not currently well-understood. EMA methods allow us to study these psychological processes and smoking behaviors. We want to better understand these motivations behind nondaily and light smokers.

Cochlear Implants and Decision-Making

Investigators: Pamara Chang, Katherine McComas

Description: This study aims to develop an empirical understanding of decision-making processes surrounding risky and controversial medical procedures, specifically by exploring the context of cochlear implant surgeries. The cochlear implant is designated for individuals who are sensorineurally deaf. The project will address the following: 1) the information sources parents seek and value in relation to others when making the decision (both online and offline), 2) the sources of social support and the value they place on each source of social support, and 3) the influence of perceived stigma experiences on the decision-making process to get the cochlear implant or not.