Michael Rohrbaugh

Professor Emeritus

Please note: Dr. Rohrbaugh is a Professor Emeritus and is no longer running a research lab.

Research Interests: 

My research focused on the role couple and family relationships play in maintaining problems like change-resistant smoking, adolescent drug abuse, and chronic heart disease, as well as on processes of therapeutic change. For example, several papers focused on couples in which one of the partners continues to smoke cigarettes despite having heart or lung disease. We identified some couple-level processes that contribute to smoking maintenance and others ­– like communal coping, marked by first-person plural pronoun use (we-talk) – that offer a powerful resource for change. Based on this, Varda Shoham and I developed a family consultation (FAMCON) intervention for smoking and other health behavior problems that showed promising preliminary results.  

Selected Publications: 

  • Shoham, V., & Rohrbaugh, M. (1997). Interrupting ironic processes. Psychological Science, 8, 151-153.
  • Shoham, V., Rohrbaugh, M.J., Stickle, T.R., & Jacob, T. (1998). Demand-withdraw couple interaction moderates retention in cognitive-behavioral vs. family-systems treatments for alcoholism. Journal of Family Psychology, 12, 557-577.
  • Rohrbaugh, M.J., & Shoham, V. (2001). Brief therapy based on interrupting ironic processes: The Palo Alto model.  Clinical Psychology: Science and Practice, 8, 66-81.
  • Rohrbaugh, M.J., Shoham, V., Trost, S., Muramoto, M.,  Cate, R., & Leischow, S. (2001). Couple-dynamics of change resistant smoking:  Toward a family-consultation model. Family Process, 40, 15-31.
  • Coyne, J.C., Rohrbaugh, M.J., Shoham, V., Cranford, J.A., Nicklas, J.M., & Sonnega, J. (2001).  Prognostic importance of marital quality for survival of congestive heart failure. American Journal of Cardiology, 88, 526-529.
  • Rohrbaugh, M.J., Cranford, J.A., Shoham, V., Nicklas, J.M., Sonnega, J. & Coyne, J.C. (2002). Couples coping with congestive heart failure: Role and gender differences in psychological distress. Journal of Family Psychology, 16, 3-13.
  • Rohrbaugh, M.J., Shoham, V., Coyne, J.C., Cranford, J.A.,, Nicklas, J.M., & Sonnega, J.  (2004). Beyond the “self” in self-efficacy: Spouse confidence predicts survival following heart failure. Journal of Family Psychology, 18, 184-193.
  • Rohrbaugh, M.J., Shoham, V., & Coyne (2006). Effect of marital quality on eight-year survival of patients with heart failure. American Journal of Cardiology, 98, 1069-1072.
  • Shoham, V., Rohrbaugh, M.J., Trost, S.E., & Muramoto, M. (2006). A family consultation (FAMCON) intervention for health-compromised smokers. Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment, 31, 395-402.
  • Shoham, V., Butler, E.A., Rohrbaugh, M.J., and Trost, S. (2007). Symptom-system fit in couples: Emotion regulation when one or both partners smoke. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 116, 848-853. 
  • Rohrbaugh, M.J., Mehl, M.R., Shoham, V., Reilly, E.S., & Ewy, G. (2008). Prognostic significance of spouse we-talk in couples coping with heart failure. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 76, 781-789.
  • Rohrbaugh, M.J., Shoham, V., Butler, E.A., Hasler, B.P., & Berman J.S. (2009). Affective synchrony in dual- and single-smoker couples: Further evidence of "symptom-system fit"? Family Process, 48, 55-67.
  • Rohrbaugh, M.J., Shoham, V., & Dempsey, C.L. (2009). Gender differences in quit support by partners of health-compromised smokers. Journal of Drug Issues, 39, 1045-1061.
  • Rohrbaugh, M.J., Shoham, V., Cleary, A., Berman, J.S., & Ewy, G.A. (2009). Health consequences of partner distress in couples coping with heart failure. Heart and Lung: J. of Acute and Critical Care, 38, 298-305.
  • Rohrbaugh, M.J., & Shoham, V. (2011). Family consultation for couples coping with health problems: A social-cybernetic approach. In H.S. Friedman (Ed.), Oxford handbook of health psychology, pp. 480-501. New York: Oxford University Press.
  • Rohrbaugh, M.J., Shoham, V., Skoyen, J.A., Jensen, M., & Mehl, M.R. (in press). We-talk, communal coping, and cessation success in couples with a health-compromised smoker. Family Process.  

Courses Taught: 

  • 625B - Psychosocial Intervention (Family Therapy)
  • 694B - Psychotherapy Practicum
  • 694C - Advanced Psychotherapy Practicum: Consultation and Supervision
  • 696D - Lifespan Development


  • B.A. Psychology, Dickinson College: Carlisle, PA (1965)
  • M.A. Psychology, Kent State University: Kent, OH (1967)
  • Ph.D. Clinical Psychology, Kent State University: Kent, OH (1970)