Merluzzi's research is in an area of health psychology referred to as psychooncology. Psychooncology is the scientific study of the interface of the medical and psychological aspects of cancer. Within psychooncology, he studies 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), a widely-used measure of self-efficacy for coping with cancer. The CBI has been translated into many languages and is used world-wide. Version 3.0 is now available (Merluzzi et al., 2018)
Survivorship and Transition to Survivorship
Development of conceptual models of the transition from cancer treatment to cancer survivorship (Philip, Merluzzi, Zhang et al., 2013; Merluzzi et al, 2016; Philip & Merluzzi, 2016) that include the refinement and analysis of the measurement of distress, barriers to help-seeking, and the dynamics of coping resources such as self-efficacy for coping and social support. Recent work is also focusing on assessing moderators of distress (e.g., social resources, satisfaction with care) and facilitators and inhibitors of help-seeking.
“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).
Complete citations are listed in “Recent Publications”