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Heather J. Hether


  • Ph.D., Communication, University of Southern California, 2009
  • M.A., Communication, University of Southern California, 2007
  • M.A., Communication Management, University of Southern California, 2003
  • B.A., Psychology, York University, 1992


Heather J. Hether has expertise in health-related communication in online contexts. Dr. Hether examines how health organizations use social media to engage their stakeholders. She applies a multi-method approach to study both message characteristics and audience impacts of online health content. Dr. Hether also has interests in digital pedagogy and communication ethics.

Research Focus

Dr. Hether’s research examines how health-related organizations cultivate relationships with their key publics, including health care consumers, health care practitioners, and health care policymakers through online platforms. Recent work examines how the largest health insurance organizations in California use Twitter and Facebook to cultivate relationships with their key publics. Previous research has examined the impacts of health information communicated through nontraditional channels, such as through social networking sites and through entertainment television programs.

Selected Publications

  • Hether, H.J., Murphy, S.T., & Valente, T.W. (2016, February). A social network analysis of the supportive interactions on prenatal sites. Digital Health. doi:10.1177/2055207616628700
  • Wilkin, H., Katz, V., Ball-Rokeach, S.J., & Hether, H.J. (2015). Communication resources for obesity prevention among African American and Latino residents in an urban neighborhood. Journal of Health Communication, 20(6), 710–719. doi:10.1080/10810730.2015.1018559
  • Hether, H.J. (2014). Dialogic communication in the health care context: A case study of Kaiser Permanente's social media practices. Public Relations Review, 40(5), 856–858. doi: 10.1016/j.pubrev.2014.07.007
  • Hether, H.J., Murphy, S.T., & Valente, T.W. (2014). It's better to give than to receive: The role of social support, trust and participation on health-related social networking sites. Journal of Health Communication. doi:10.1080/10810730.2014.894596
  • Pariera, K.L., Hether, H.J., Murphy, S.M., de Castro Buffingon, S., & L. Baezconde-Garbanati. (2013). Portrayals of reproductive and sexual health issues on primetime television. Health Communication. doi:10.1080/10410236.2013.774653


Dr. Hether teaches media, public relations and health communication courses. Her course subjects include Strategic Communication in Public Relations (CMN 131), Social Media for Public Relations (CMN 132), Communication Campaigns (CMN 146), and Health Communication (CMN 161).


  • Nominated for Outstanding Educator Award, Public Relations Society of America, 2013
  • Eberhardt Research Fellowship, University of the Pacific, 2012