Thomas V. Merluzzi

Thomas V. Merluzzi


Ph.D., The Ohio State University 

  • Clinical

(574) 631-5623

Lab for Psychooncology Research

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Prof. Merluzzi's research focuses on 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
  • Transition to Survivorship, Coping and Social Support
  • "Letting Go"- Religious/Spiritual Perspectives on Coping and Relinquishing Control 
  • Psychosocial Issues in Racial Health Disparities


Please visit the Laboratory for Psychooncology Research website for more information on these areas of research and on the following measures:

  • Cancer Behavior Inventory (V3.0):  A measure of self-efficacy for coping with cancer (27 items, 7 scales)
  • Brief Cancer Behavior Inventory: A brief measure of self-efficacy for coping with cancer (12 items, unidimensional)
  • Caregiver Inventory: A measure of self-efficacy for caregiving (21 items, 4 scales)
  • Social Relationship Coping Efficacy Scale: A measure of self-efficacy for maintaining and enhancing social relationships and social support for persons with cancer (10 items, unidimensional)


Videos - more on the lab website



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

Recent Publications

Merluzzi, T.V., Salamanca-Balen, N., Philip, E.J., & Salsman, J.M. (2023). “Letting go” - Relinquishing control of illness outcomes to God and quality of life: Meaning/Peace as a mediating mechanism in religious coping with cancer. Social Science and Medicine.

Serpentini, S., Silvestri, G., Cristaldi, G., Borgese, C., Deledda, G., Sommacal, S., Iannopollo, L., Calvo, V., Ronconi, L., Merluzzi, T., & Catarinella, A. (2022). Assessment and utility of socio-relational self-efficacy in breast cancer patients: Italian Validation of the Social Relationship Coping Efficacy Scale (SRCE-I). BMC Psychology, 10, 248 (2022).

Merluzzi, T.V., Zhang, G., Philip, E.J., & Lee, D., Salamanca-Balen, N. (2022). Discerning critical stressors and resources in the lives of cancer patients: A multivariate analysis of targets of intervention for enhancing supportive care and quality of life. Psycho-Oncology, 31, 1186-1195.

Salamanca-Balen, N., Qiu, M., & Merluzzi, T.V. (2022). COVID-19 pandemic stress, tolerance of uncertainty and well-being for persons with and without cancer. Psychology and Health.  DOI: 10.1080/08870446.2021.2020273

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, 101957.

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 Research, 28, 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 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

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, 2877-2880doi: 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

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.

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.

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.

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

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.

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.

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.

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.