Thomas Merluzzi

Thomas Merluzzi

Professor, Department of Psychology

University of Notre Dame

Merluzzi studies the coping processes in people with cancer and cancer survivors from the perspective of social learning theory and, in particular, self-regulation and self-efficacy theories. 

Current Areas of Research:

Assessment of Self-efficacy for Coping with Cancer

Development and refinement of the Cancer Behavior Inventory (CBI; Merluzzi & Martinez Sanchez, 1997; Merluzzi et al., 2001; Heitzmann, Merluzzi et al., 2011; Merluzzi et al., 2018), a widely-used measure of self-efficacy for coping with cancer. The CBI has been translated into many languages including the recently-published Italian version of the Brief CBI (Serpentini, Del Bianco, Chirico, Merluzzi, et al., 2019) and the Korean version of  CBIV3.0 (Lee, Merluzzi, Choi, & Lee, 2021). Recent projects: NIH PROMIS measure of coping self-efficacy (Salsman, Schalet, Merluzzi, et al., 2019) and meta-analysis of self-efficacy outcomes in RCT interventions for cancer patients (Merluzzi, Pustejovsky, et al., 2019).

All versions of the CBI including Version 3.0 (Merluzzi et al., 2018) are available on the Lab for Psychooncology Research website.

Survivorship, Coping, and Social Support

Development of a stage-based model of the transition from cancer treatment to cancer survivorship (Philip, Merluzzi, Zhang et al., 2013; Merluzzi et al, 2016; Philip & Merluzzi, 2016). Recent projects: Natural language analysis of stages of survivorship (Misiti, Kosidowski, Prendergast, Merluzzi, 2019; Kosidowski, Lamoretti, Wright, Salamanca-Balen & Merluzzi, 2021; Merluzzi, Salamanca Balen, Kurapatti, Misiti, & Kosidowski, 2021); Assessment of coping models of cancer and cancer survivorship (Merluzzi, Chirico, et al., 2019) and; Development of new perspectives on social support, Social Relationship Coping Efficacy, that optimize the patient’s social network. The Social Relationship Coping Efficacy Scale is available in English (Merluzzi, Serpentini, et al., 2019), Greek (Charos, Merluzzi, et al., 2021), and will soon be available in Italian (Serpentini et al, in preparation).

“Letting Go” – Religious/Spiritual Perspectives on Relinquishing Control

Integration of modern psychological theory with traditional approaches to religious/spiritual coping in persons with cancer (Nairn & Merluzzi, 2003; Merluzzi, 2007; Howsepian & Merluzzi, 2009; Sherman, Merluzzi et al, 2015). Current projects focus on the historical, conceptual and practical aspects of relinquishing control or “letting go” (Merluzzi & Philip, 2017; Serpentini, Capovilla, & Merluzzi, 2016) and a theory of hope that integrates uncertainty and control and contextualizes primary and secondary control (e.g., 'letting go") (Salamanca Balen & Merluzzi, 2021).

Essay on Spiritual Coping - "Dad and Jimmy" by Tom Merluzzi

Psychosocial Issues in Racial Health Disparities

Current projects are focusing on a threshold-restraint theory that explains the impact of perceived discrimination on the quality of life of African Americans with cancer (Merluzzi, Philip, Zhang, & Sullivan, 2015).

For more on measures, videos, and links to publications visit the Lab for Psychooncology Research Website

Recent Publications:

Salamanca-Balen, N., & Merluzzi, T. V. (2021). Hope, uncertainty, and control: A theoretical integration in the context of serious illness. Patient education and counseling104(11), 2622–2627.

Serpentini, S., Tosin, G., Guandalini, B., Ronconi, L., Cristaldi, G., Amatulli, R., Deledda, G., Riccardi, S., Sommacal, S., Iannopollo, L., Calvo, V., & Merluzzi. T.V. (2021). Assessment of self-efficacy for caregiving in oncology: Italian validation of the Caregiver Inventory (CGI-I). BMC Palliative Care, 20:166.

Lee, H., Merluzzi, T.V., Choi, N.Y., & Lee, J. (2021). Self-efficacy for coping with cancer: Psychometric properties of the Cancer Behavior Inventory version 3.0 - Korean. European Journal of Oncology Nursing52,.

Merluzzi, T.V., Philip, E.J., Gomer, B., Heitzmann, C.A., & Kim, D. (2021). Serious comorbidities and emotional distress: A coping mediation model for persons with cancer. Annals of Behavioral Medicine, 55, 994-1004.  

Salamanca-Balen, N., Merluzzi, T.V., & Chen, M. (2021). The effectiveness of hope-fostering interventions in palliative care: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Palliative Medicine, 35, 710-728. doi:10.1177/0269216321994728

Charos, D., Merluzzi, T. V., Kolokotroni, P., Lykeridou, K., Deltsidou, A., & Vivilaki, V. (2021). Breast cancer and social relationship coping efficacy: validation of the Greek version. Women & Health, 1–10. DOI: 10.1080/03630242.2021.1994101 

Merluzzi, T.V., Pustejovsky, J., Salsman, J.M., Sohl, S.J., Philip, E.J., & Berendsen, M. (2019). Interventions to enhance self-efficacy in cancer patients: A meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials.  Psycho-Oncology, 28, 1781-1790.

Salsman, J.M., Schalet, B.D., Merluzzi, T.V., Park, C.L., Hahn, E.A., Snyder, M.A., & Cella, D. (2019). Calibration and initial validation of a general self-efficacy item bank and short form for the NIH PROMIS®Quality of Life Research28, 2513-2523. DOI: 10.1007/s11136-019-02198-6

Merluzzi, T.V., Chirico, A., Serpentini, S., Yang, M., & Philip, E.J. (2019). The role of coping in the relationship between stressful life events and quality of life in persons with cancer. Psychology and Health, 34, 497-513.  doi: 10.1080/08870446.2018.1545905

Serpentini, S., Del Bianco, P., Chirico, A., Merluzzi, T.V., De Martino, R., Lucidi, F., De Salvo, G.L., Trentin, L., & Capovilla. E. (2019). Self-efficacy for coping in palliative care patients: Validation and utility of the Italian version of the Cancer Behavior Inventory (CBI-B/Italian). BMC Palliative Care18:34 

Nairn, R.C. & Merluzzi, T.V. (2019). Enhancing coping skills for persons with advanced cancer utilizing mastery enhancement: A pilot randomized clinical trial. Journal of Behavioral Medicine, 42, 423-439.  doi: 10.1007/s10865-018-0004-y

Merluzzi, T.V., Serpentini, S., Philip, E.J., Yang, M., Salamanca-Balen, N., Heitzmann, C.A., & Catarinella, A. (2019). Social Relationship Coping Efficacy: A new construct in understanding social support and well-being in persons with cancer. Psycho-Oncology, 28, 85-91. doi:10.1002/pon.4913

Philip, E.J., Salamanca-Balen, N., Lewis, B., & Merluzzi, T.V. (2018). Lifestyle behaviors and psychosocial outcomes among long-term cancer survivors. Psycho-Oncology, 27, 2877-2880.  doi: 10.1002/pon.4885

Salsman, J.M., Park, C.L., Hahn, E.A., Snyder, M.A., George, L.S., Steger, M.F., Merluzzi, T., Cella, D. (2018). Refining and supplementing candidate measures of psychological well-being for the NIH PROMIS: Qualitative results from a mixed cancer sample. Quality of Life Research, 27, 2471-2476.

Merluzzi, T.V., Philip, E.J., Heitzmann Ruhf, C.A., Liu, H., Yang, M., & Conley, C.C. (2018). Self-efficacy for coping with cancer: Revision of the Cancer Behavior Inventory (Version 3.0). Psychological Assessment, 30(4), 486-499

Merluzzi, T.V. & Martinez Sanchez, M.A. (2018). Husbands’ perceptions of their wives’ breast cancer coping efficacy: Testing congruence models of adjustment. Cancer Management and Research, 10, 297-304. doi: 10.2147/CMAR.S157124

Merluzzi, T.V., & Philip, E.J. (2017). “Letting Go” - From ancient to modern perspectives on relinquishing personal control: Focus on religion and coping with cancer. Journal of Religion and Health, 56(6), 2039-2052. doi: 10.1007/s10943-017-0366-4

Chirico, A., Lucidi, F., Alivernini, F., Merluzzi, T.V., & Giordano, A. (2017). A meta-analytic review of the relationship of cancer coping self-efficacy with distress and quality of life. Oncotarget, doi: 10.18632/oncotarget.15758

Chirico, A., Serpentini, S., Merluzzi, T., Mallia, L., Del Bianco, P., Martino, R., Trentin, L., Bucci, E., Capovilla, E., Lucidi, F., Botti, G., & Giordano, A. (2017). Self-efficacy for coping moderates the effects of distress on quality of life in palliative cancer care. Anticancer Research, 37, 1609-1615 doi:10.21873/anticanres.11491

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