Stephen A Rains, PhD

Associate Professor, Communication
Associate Professor, Psychology
Email Address: 
Phone Number: 
(520) 626-3065
(520) 621-5504
Professional Bio: 

Dr. Rains' research program examines health communication, communication technologies, and social influence. Much of his work in these areas is relevant to cancer prevention and control. His primary area of research involves the use and implications of new communication technologies for health communication. He recently completed a funded project examining Internet use among the lay public for skin-cancer information seeking, and he is currently collaborating on a mhealth intervention using text messaging to promote sun-safety behaviors among adolescents.

Dr. Rains has also conducted a series of studies investigating how individuals facing illness, including forms of cancer, use social media (e.g., online communities, blogs, etc.) as coping resources. His secondary area of research involves the design of persuasive health messages. This work largely focuses on better understanding the mechanisms through which people resist attempts to change their health-related attitudes and behaviors. His work in these areas has resulted in more than 40 published peer-reviewed journal articles.

Research Information

Research Program: 
Cancer Prevention and Control
Selected Publications: 

Peer Reviewed Journal Articles
*Co-author was a graduate student.

  1. Bolkan, S., & Rains, S. A. (in press). The legitimization of paltry contributions (LPC) as a compliance gaining technique: A meta-analysis testing three explanations. Communication Research.
  2. Parker, K. A., Rains, S. A., & Ivanov, B. (in press). Examining the “blanket of protection” conferred by inoculation: The effects of inoculation messages on the cross-protection of related attitudes. Communication Monographs.
  3. *Keating, D. M., & Rains, S. A. (in press). Health blogging and social support: A three-year panel study. Journal of Health Communication.
  4. Rains, S. A. (in press). Health information seeking and the World Wide Web: An uncertainty management perspective. Journal of Health Communication. [pdf]
  5. Rains, S. A. (in press). Language style matching as a predictor of perceived social support in computer-mediated interaction among individuals coping with illness. Communication Research. [pdf]
  6. *Rains, S. A., Brunner, S. R., & Oman, K. (in press). Self-disclosure and new communication technologies: The implications of receiving superficial self-disclosures from friends. Journal of Personal and Social Relationships. [pdf]
  7. Rains, S. A., Peterson, E., & Wright, K. B. (in press). Communicating social support in computer-mediated contexts among individuals coping with illness: A meta-analytic review of content analyses examining support messages shared online. Communication Monographs.
  8. Rains, S. A., & Ruppel, E. K. (in press). Channel complementarity theory and the health information-seeking process: Further investigating the implications of source characteristic complementarity. Communication Research. [pdf]
  9. Rains, S. A., & Tukachinsky, R. (in press). An examination of the relationships among uncertainty, appraisal, and information-seeking behavior proposed in uncertainty management theory. Health Communication. [pdf]
  10. *Rains, S. A., & Tukachinsky, R. (in press) Information seeking in uncertainty management theory: Exposure to information about medical uncertainty and information-processing orientation as predictors of uncertainty management success. Journal of Health Communication.
  11. *Rains, S. A. & Brunner, S. R. (2015). What can we learn about social network sites by studying Facebook? A call and recommendations for research on social network sites. New Media & Society, 17, 114-131. [pdf]
  12. *Rains, S. A., & Keating, D. M. (2015). Health blogging: An examination of the outcomes associated with making public, written disclosures about health. Communication Research, 42, 107-133. [pdf]
  13. Coe, K., Kenski, K., & Rains, S. A. (2014). Online and uncivil? Patterns and determinants of incivility in newspaper website comments. Journal of Communication, 64, 658-679. [pdf]
  14. Rains, S. A. (2014). The implications of stigma and anonymity for self-disclosure in health blogs. Health Communication, 29, 23-31. [pdf]
  15. Wright, K. B., & Rains, S. A. (2014). Weak tie support preference and coping style as predictors of perceived credibility within health-related on-line support groups. Health Communication, 29, 281-287. [pdf]
  16. Rains, S. A. (2013). The nature of psychological reactance revisited: A meta-analytic review. Human Communication Research, 29, 47-73. [pdf
  17. Wright, K. B., & Rains, S. A. (2013). Weak tie support network preference, stigma, and health outcomes in computer-mediated support groups. Journal of Applied Communication Research, 41, 309-324. [pdf]
  18. *Ruppel, E. K., & Rains, S. A. (2012). Information sources and the health information-seeking process: An application and extension of channel complementarity theory. Communication Monographs, 79, 358-405. [pdf]
  19. *Rains, S. A., & Keating, D. M. (2011). The social dimension of blogging about health: Health blogging, social support, and well-being. Communication Monographs, 78, 511-534. [pdf
  20. Stephens, K. K., & Rains, S. A. (2011). Information and communication technology sequences and message repetition in interpersonal interaction. Communication Research, 38, 101-122. [pdf]
  21. Banas, J. A., & Rains, S. A. (2010). A meta-analysis of research on inoculation theory. Communication Monographs, 77, 281-311. [pdf]
  22. *Tokunaga, R. S., & Rains, S. A. (2010). An evaluation of two characterizations of the relationships between problematic Internet use (PIU), time spent using the Internet, and psychosocial problems. Human Communication Research, 36, 512-545. [pdf]
  23. Wright, K. B., Rains, S., & Banas, J. A. (2010). Weak tie support network preference and computer-mediated support groups.  Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication, 15, 606-624. [pdf]
  24. Turner, M. M., Banas, J. A., Rains, S. A., Jang, S., Moore, J. L., & Morrison, D. (2010). The effects of altercasting and counterattitudinal behavior on compliance: A lost letter technique investigation. Communication Reports, 23, 1-13. [pdf]
  25. *Rains, S. A., & Bosch, L. A. (2009). Privacy and health in the Information Age: A content analysis of health website privacy policy statements. Health Communication, 24, 435-447. [pdf]
  26. *Rains, S. A., & Young, V. (2009). A meta-analysis of research on formal computer-mediated support groups: Examining group characteristics and health outcomes. Human Communication Research, 35, 309-336. [pdf]
  27. Rains, S. A., Tumlin, G. T., & Knapp, M. L. (2009). Electronic bumper stickers: The content and interpersonal functions of messages attached to e-mail signatures. Discourse Studies, 11, 105-120. [pdf]
  28. *Rains, S. A., & Donnerstein, C. K. (2009). Health information seeking and perceptions of website credibility: Examining web-use motivation, message characteristics, and structural features of websites. Computers in Human Behavior, 25, 544-553. [pdf]
  29. Rains, S. A. (2008). Health at high speed: Broadband Internet access, health communication, and the digital divide. Communication Research, 35, 283-97. [pdf]
  30. D’Urso, S. D., & Rains, S. A. (2008). Examining the scope of channel expansion: A test of channel expansion theory with new and traditional communication media. Management Communication Quarterly, 21, 486-507. [pdf]
  31. Rains, S. A. (2008). Seeking health information in the Information Age: The role of Internet self-efficacy. Western Journal of Communication, 72, 1-18. [pdf]
  32. Rains, S. A. (2007). Perceptions of traditional information sources and use of the World Wide Web to seek health information: Findings from the Health Information National Trends Survey. Journal of Health Communication, 12, 667-680. [pdf]
  33. Rains, S. A., & Turner, M. M. (2007) Psychological reactance and persuasive health communication: A test and extension of the intertwined model. Human Communication Research, 33, 241-269. [pdf]
  34. Rains, S. A. (2007). The impact of anonymity on perceptions of source credibility and influence in computer-mediated group communication: A test of two competing hypotheses. Communication Research, 34, 100-125. [pdf]
  35. Rains, S. A. (2007). The anonymity effect: The influence of anonymity on perceptions of sources and information on health websites. Journal of Applied Communication Research, 35, 197-214. [pdf]
  36. Rains, S. A., & Scott, C. R. (2007). To identify or not to identify: A theoretical model of receiver responses to anonymous communication. Communication Theory, 17, 61-91. [pdf]
  37. Rains, S. A., & Young, A. M. (2006). A sign of the times: An analysis of organizational members' email signatures. Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication, 11, 1046-1061. [pdf]
  38. Rains, S. A. (2005). Leveling the organizational playing field–virtually: A meta-analysis of experimental research assessing the impact of group support system use on member influence behaviors. Communication Research, 32, 193-234. [pdf]
  39. Scott, C. R., & Rains, S. A. (2005). Anonymous communication in organizations: Assessing use and appropriateness. Management Communication Quarterly, 19, 157-197. [pdf]

Book Chapters

  1. *Rains, S. A., Brunner, S. R., & Oman, K. (2014). Social media and risk communication. In H. Cho, T. Reimer, & K. McComas (Eds.), The Sage handbook of risk communication (pp. 228-240). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.
  2. Scott, C. R., Rains, S. A., & Haseki, M. (2011). Anonymous communication: Unmasking findings across fields. In C. T. Salmon (Ed.), Communication Yearbook (vol. 35, pp. 299-342). New York: Routledge.
  3. Rains, S. A., & Scott, C. R. (2005). Virtual teams in the traditional classroom: Lessons on new communication technologies and training. In S. Ferris & S. Godar (Eds.), Teaching and learning with virtual teams (pp. 268-292). Hershey, PA: The Idea Group.

Encyclopedia Entries

  1. *Keating, D. M., & Rains, S. A. (2014). Expressive writing and health. In T. L. Thompson (Ed.), Encyclopedia of health communication (pp. 475-476). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.
  2. Rains, S. A. (2014). Communication, computer-mediated support, and satisfaction with health. In A. C. Michalos (Ed.), Encyclopedia of quality of life and well-being research (pp. 1018-1020). Dordrecht, Netherlands: Springer.
  3. Rains, S. A. (2014). Health blogging. In T. L. Thompson (Ed.), Encyclopedia of health communication (pp. 546-547). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.
  4. Rains, S. A. (2014). Theoretical frameworks, communication technology. In T. L. Thompson (Ed.), Encyclopedia of health communication (pp. 1387-1390). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

Electronic Publications

  1. Rains, S. A. & Keating, D. M. (2011). Health blogging, social support, and well-being. Communication Currents, 6(6).
  2. Rains, S. A. (2007). Anonymity and health information on the World Wide Web. Communication Currents, 2(3).

Academic Information

University of Texas at Austin, Austin, TX