Thomas V. Merluzzi

Thomas V. Merluzzi


Ph.D., The Ohio State University 

  • Clinical

(574) 631-5623

Lab for Psychooncology Research

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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.



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), a widely-used measure of self-efficacy for coping with cancer. The CBI has been translated into many languages. All versions of the CBI including Version 3.0 (Merluzzi et al., 2018) are available on the Lab for Psychooncology Research website. 

Survivorship and Transition to Survivorship

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; Merluzzi et al., 2019) that includes the analysis of the many issues involved in the transition to survivorship such as anxiety over uncertainty, barriers to help-seeking, and the dynamics of resources such as self-efficacy for coping and social support. 

"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).

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

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 Research, 28, 2513-2523. DOI: 10.1007/s11136-019-02198-

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: 10.1080/08870446.2018.154590

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

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


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  [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:


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


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]


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]