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 (Merluzzi, Serpentini, et al., 2019).
“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
Salamanca-Balen, N., & Merluzzi, T.V. Hope, uncertainty, and control: A theoretical integration in the context of serious illness (2021). Patient Education and Counseling. Special issue: Communicating and Managing Uncertainty in Medicine.
Merluzzi, T.V., Philip, E.J., Gomer, B., Heitzmann Ruhf, C.A., & Kim, D. (2021). Comorbidity, functional impairment and emotional distress: A coping mediation model for persons with cancer. Annals of Behavioral Medicine.
Salamanca-Balen, N., Merluzzi, T.V. & Chen, M. (2021). A meta-analytic analysis of hope interventions for persons in palliative care. Palliative Medicine.
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 Cancer Nursing.
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. doi.org/10.1002/pon.5148
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 Research, 28, 2513-2523. DOI:
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 Care, 18:34 doi.org/10.1186/s12904-019-0420-y
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. doi.org/10.1007/s11136-018-1896-2. https://rdcu.be/1diI
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 doi.org/10.1037/pas0000483[PMID: 28504538 PMC: PMC5685945]
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 [PMID:29491720] LINK:https://goo.gl/zAGsYK
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 [PMID: 28168581]
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 http://ar.iiarjournals.org/content/37/4/1609.full.pdf+html
Salsman, J.M., Pustejovsky, J.E., Park, C.E., Sherman, A.C., Merluzzi, T.V. Danhauer, S.C., Jim, H.S.L., & Fitchett, G. (2016). Reply to: The association between religion/spirituality and mental health in cancer. Cancer, 122, 2441-2. [PMID: 27197776]
Merluzzi, T.V., Philip, E.J., Yang, M., & Heitzmann, C.A. (2016). Matching of received social support with need for support in adjusting to cancer and cancer survivorship. Psycho-Oncology, 25, 684-690. [PMID: 26126444]
Serpentini, S., Capovilla, E., & Merluzzi, T.V. (2016). Lasciare andare: Potenzialita di applicazione in psiconcologia e nelle cure palliative. (“Letting go”: Potential application in psycho-oncology and palliative care). Mosciano, S.A., Italy: Artemia Edizioni.
Philip, E.J. & Merluzzi, T.V. (2016). Symptom burden and psychosocial stressors in post-treatment cancer survivors: Desire for support and challenges in identifying individuals in need. Journal of Psychosocial Oncology, 34, 223-239.
Chirico, A., Lucidi, F., Mallia, L., D’Aiuto, M. & Merluzzi, T.V. (2015). Indicators of distress in newly diagnosed breast cancer patients. PeerJ, 21, e1107. doi: 10.7717/peerj.1107.[PMID: 26244115] https://peerj.com/articles/1107/
Merluzzi, T.V., Philip, E.J., Zhang, Z., & Sullivan, C. (2015). Perceived discrimination, coping, and quality of life for African-American and Caucasian persons with cancer. Cultural Diversity and Ethnic Minority Psychology, 21(3), 337-44. doi: 10.1037/a0037543. [PMID: 25090144]
Salsman, J.M., Fitchett, G., Merluzzi, T.V., Sherman, A.C., & Park, C.L. (2015). Religion, spirituality, and health outcomes in cancer: A case for a meta-analytic investigation. Cancer, 121, 3754-3759. [PMID: 26258400]
Jim, H.S.L., Pustejovsky J., Park, C.L., Danhauer S.C., Sherman, A.C., Fitchett, G., Merluzzi, T.V., Munoz, A.R., George, L., Snyder, M.A., & Salsman, J.M. (2015). Religion, spirituality, and physical health in cancer patients: A meta-analysis. Cancer, 121, 3760-3768. [PMID: 26258868]
Salsman, J.M., Pustejovsky, J.E., Jim, H.S.L., Munoz, A.R., Merluzzi, T.V., George, L., Park, C.L., Danhauer, S.C., Sherman, A.C., Snyder, M.A., & Fitchett, G. (2015). A meta-analytic approach to examine the relationship between religion/spirituality and mental health in cancer. Cancer, 121, 3769-3778. [PMID: 26258536]
Sherman, A.C., Merluzzi, T.V., Pustejovsky, J.E., Park, C.L., George, L., Fitchett, G., Jim, H.S.L., Munoz, A.R., Danhauer, S.C., Snyder, M.A., & Salsman, J.M. (2015). A meta-analytic review of religious or spiritual involvement and social health among cancer patients. Cancer, 121,3779-3788. [PMID: 26258730]