Rebecca Purc-Stephenson, PhD

Professor (Psychology), Augustana - Social Sciences


Professor (Psychology), Augustana - Social Sciences
(780) 679-1664
2-14 Founders' Hall
4901 46 Ave
Camrose AB
T4V 2R3



Area of Study / Keywords

Mental Health Agriculture Rural Chronic Illness Occupational Stress 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 examines mental health among farmers, farming families, and those working in the agricultural sector. 

Working with industry partners at ARECA, we developed AgKnow, the Alberta Mental Health Network in 2022. My farmer mental health research program at the UofA focuses on farm culture, stress and coping strategies, women in agriculture, and mental health resilience education. With a team of dedicated undergraduate research assistants from farming backgrounds across Alberta, we pursue research to develop evidence-informed programs and education for farmers, as well as those who interact with them (e.g., healthcare, service providers, educators).  


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


AUIDS 101 - First Year Seminar

Selected topics that highlight the interdisciplinary nature of the Liberal Arts and Sciences. This seminar-style class is the first course in Augustana's Core. The focus and content of each course are determined by faculty interests, and vary from year to year.

AUIDS 401 - Advanced Integration Project

A project-based course which allows students to work in small interdisciplinary teams to propose a solution to a real-world issue with the support of a faculty advisor. Prerequisite: AUIDS 301.

AUPSY 342 - Health Psychology

An overview of theory, research and practice of health psychology and behavioural medicine. Prerequisite: AUPSY 220 or 240.

AUPSY 346 - Community Psychology

Examination of the theories, approaches, and values behind social intervention intended to ameliorate, or prevent, psychological difficulty. Examples of community change are drawn from a Canadian context whenever possible. Prerequisites: AUPSY 103 and AUPSY 213.

AUPSY 488 - Forensic Psychology

Examination of the psychology of criminal behaviour and the legal system. Topics include theories of criminal behaviour, jury selection and decision-making, police interrogations and confessions, eyewitness testimony, and risk assessment and offender intervention programs. Prerequisite: AUPSY 240. Note: Credit may be obtained for only one of AUPSY 488 and AUCRI 488 (2020).

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