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Faculty Scholars

Faculty Scholar Melinda Weathers, Ph.D. at Clemson University, Clemson South Carolina

Melinda Weathers, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor of Communication Studies
College Behavioral, Social and Health Sciences

Contact: 864-656-2081 or mweath3@clemson.edu


Who is Dr. Weathers?

Melinda Weathers is an assistant professor in the Department of Communication Studies at Clemson University. Her scholarly interests include health communication, interpersonal communication, intercultural communication, and new communication technologies. Her research has encompassed a range of topics addressing issues related to interpersonal and intercultural messages within relational, institutional, societal and health contexts. Specifically, she has explored communication-related issues between doctors and patients, caregivers and older adults, and in heterosexual dating relationships.

Ultimately, Melinda's research seeks to better understand how effective communication relates to the mental and physical well-being of persons and society. She has published in journals such as Patient Education and Counseling, Journal of Participatory Medicine, and Communication Education. Her research has been recognized through top paper awards from the National Communication Association and Central States Communication Association. She received her Ph.D. in health communication from George Mason University, a master’s degree in health communication from the University of Houston, and a bachelor’s degree in speech communication from Texas A&M University.

How Dr. Weathers' research is transforming health care

Digital dating abuse is a problem of increasing magnitude in the United States. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2011) define digital abuse as “any type of harassment or bullying by a significant other that occurs through e-mail, chat rooms, instant messaging, websites [including social networking sites and blogs], or text messaging.” Research suggests that one in four young people report being victims of this type of abuse (Family Violence Prevention Fund, 2009).

Consistent with other forms of abuse (e.g., physical, sexual, or psychological abuse), digital dating abuse can also have harmful effects on victims’ health. A recent study indicates that there is an association between digital abuse and mental health in particular (Gatti, 2009). Consequences may include increased stress, emotional distress, depressive symptoms, suicidal ideation or suicide attempts, frequent serious or chronic illness, decreased relational satisfaction, and lower levels of perceive power (Dutton & Painter, 1993; Marshall, 1996; O’Leary, 1999).

Despite the tremendous amount of research on abuse over the past two decades, studies of digital abuse in samples of abused women are few. Little integrative work has been done with this population; much of the research that does exist in populations of abused women has been descriptive in nature. Melinda’s research begins to address some of the issues in digitally abusive relationships. She is currently working on projects to assess women’s coping strategies in response to digital abuse in romantic relationships, and projects examining the effects of health campaign messages that target digitally abused women.


Health Research Expertise Keywords

Health, Communication, Digital Abuse, Dating Relationships, Interpersonal violence, Women's Health