Rebecca Purc-Stephenson, PhD

Professor, Augustana - Social Sciences


Professor, Augustana - Social Sciences
(780) 679-1664
3-26 Founders' Hall
4901-46 Ave
Camrose AB
T4V 2R3



Area of Study / Keywords

Mental Health Chronic Illness Work Rural Resiliency


I am an Applied Social Psychologist who focuses on mental health and wellbeing, work, and access to care. Broadly, my research focuses on ways to improve the work lives of people living with a chronic mental or physical illness/disability and how to improve efficiency, flow and communication of healthcare services for individuals living in rural and remote areas. My current focus will be examining mental health among farmers and farming families.


  • Ph.D., Applied Social Psychology, University of Windsor
  • M.A., Applied Social Psychology, University of Windsor
  • Post-graduate Diploma, Human Resource Management, Conestoga College
  • B.A. (Honours), Psychology, University of Guelph


To investigate my broad research interests, I conduct studies in three specific areas: 

Studying occupational health, creating inclusive workplaces and work cultures, and understanding how individuals with an undisclosed/hidden chronic illness or disability adapt at work. My studies in this area examine perceived employment barriers, identifying disability-friendly organizational cultures, and work sustainability strategies employees (e.g., MS, arthritis) use to remain employed. Example papers/presentations:

  • Purc-Stephenson, R.J., Dostie, J., & Smith, H. (2018). Swimming against the current: A qualitative review of the work experiences and adaptations made by employees with arthritis. Arthritis Care & Research, 75, 1-20. 
  • Purc-Stephenson, R., Dostie, J., & Smith, H. (2017, October). Employee decision-making about disclosing a concealable disability at work. Paper presented at the annual Qualitative Health Research Conference, Quebec City, QC. 
  • Purc-Stephenson, R. J., Ferguson, C, & Jones, S. (2017). Breaking out of the Glass Box: A Meta-ethnography of disability and employment Research. Journal of Vocational Rehabilitation, 46(1), 49-65.

Adapting to chronic illnesses and/or disabilities and the interactions with healthcare providers. My studies in this area have included post-traumatic growth and sense-making of illness, breast cancer screening, and the diagnosis experiences of women with premenstrual dysphoria disorder. Example papers/presentations:  

  • Purc-Stephenson, R. J. & Lyseng, A. (2016). How are the Kids Holding up? A systematic review and meta-analysis on the psycho-social impact of maternal breast cancer on children. Cancer Treatment Reviews, 49, 45-56.
  • Purc-Stephenson, R.J., Bowlby, D. & Qaqish, S. T. (2015). Positive and negative life changes following the diagnosis of a chronic illness. Quality of Life Research, 24, 1197-1205.
  • Purc-Stephenson, R., Dostie, J., & Yung, C, (in progress). Gradual versus sudden illness onset and the link to patients’ quality of life. Manuscript to be submitted to Journal of Psychosomatic Research

Evaluating alternative models of healthcare delivery and healthcare reforms. My studies in this area evaluate integrating Nurse Practitioners into hospital and community settings, telephone triage and advice services, and adapting Lean methodology to remove waste and improve flow and efficiency. Example papers/presentations:

  • Purc-Stephenson, R. & Qaqish, S. T. (under review). Can we Lean healthcare? Developing and evaluating a lean assessment tool in healthcare settings. Manuscript to be submitted to Journal of Rural Health.
  • Throndson, J., Tritten, C., Kupka, J., King, C. & Purc-Stephenson, R. (2015, September). Atrial Fibrillation screening of Emergency Department patients. Poster presented at the Canadian Stroke Congress, Toronto, ON.
  • Purc-Stephenson, R. & Thrasher, C. (2012). Patient compliance with medical advice given by telephone triage nurses: A meta-analytic review. Patient Education and Counseling, 87, 135-142.


Teaching Philosophy

“There is nothing so practical as a good theory.” ~ Kurt Lewin

Courses Taught

I teach several applied social psychology and methods courses for the Psychology program. Below is the list of courses I currently teach at our campus:

  • AUPSY 213 Statistical Methods for Psychological Research
  • AUPSY 220 Personality
  • AUPSY 342 Health Psychology
  • AUPSY 346 Community Psychology
  • AUPSY 348 Industrial/Organizational Psychology
  • AUPSY 414 Program Evaluation
  • AUPSY 488 Forensic Psychology

Student Supervision

I typically supervise several students each year in an Independent Study Project and/or a Directed Readings Course. Below is a sample of some of those topics:

  • Hailey Smith - Getting it done: Evaluating Community-Based Child Programs. Independent Study Project.
  • Wesdyne Amyotte - Making Sense of Multiple Sclerosis through Art Therapy. Master's Candidate, St. Stephen's College.
  • Ashli Lindholm - The long-term outcomes of a community-based teen pregnancy program. Independent Study Project. 
  • Larissa Brosinsky - Determining how social media can enhance a community-based prevention program. Independent Study Project. 
  • Candace Yung - The impact of illness onset on psychological and physical well-being in chronically ill patients. Independent Study Project.
  • Kaitlyn Ganser - Exploring the possible causes and consequences of Munchausen by Proxy Syndrome (MBPS) for the perpetrator and victim. Independent Study Project.