Melissa M. Franks, PhD

Research Interests

Aging families, marriage and health, health behaviors and chronic illness management


I joined the Family Studies faculty in the Department of Human Development and Family Studies at Purdue University in the fall of 2007. My program of research focuses on marital processes in the management of chronic illness. In this work, my colleagues and I investigate health lifestyles and marital interactions and their association with the physical health and psychological well-being of both marital partners. Our current work is funded by the National Institute on Aging and the National Institute for Diabetes & Digestive and Kidney Diseases.

I am a social psychologist, and I received my doctoral degree from Kent State University. My dissertation research ignited my continuing interest in marital processes in the context of illness. Together with my graduate mentor, Dr. Mary Ann Stephens, I investigated the social support that husbands provide to their wives who are caring for an aging parent. This work on family caregiving led me to pursue postdoctoral training in gerontology. I received an NIA postdoctoral fellowship through the Institute of Gerontology at the University of Michigan. My postdoctoral training with Dr. A. Regula Herzog focused on productive aging and on self-making among older adults. Following my postdoctoral training, I joined the faculty at Wayne State University where I began my research on the management of chronic illness in married couples. I later returned to the University of Michigan to continue my research in the Institute for Research on Women and Gender.

At Purdue, I am a faculty associate in the Center on Aging and the Life Course. My families and health research is conducted through the Purdue Healthy Aging Studies Lab (PHASES) in collaboration with Dr. Elliot Friedman. Several exciting projects are underway in this lab, and new projects are being developed by affiliated faculty and students. These projects will contribute new knowledge about the influence of marriage and family relationships on the health and well-being of individual members.

Selected Publications

  • Wilson*, S., Marini, C., Franks, M. M., Topp, D., Wadsworth, S. M., & Whiteman, S. (2017, online). Communication and connection during deployment: A daily-diary study from the perspective of at-home partners. Journal of Family Psychology. 5-Year Impact Factor 2.65

  • Jenkins*, B., Rook, K. S., Borges-Garcia, R., Franks, M. M., & Stephens, M. A. P. (2016). Too much of a good thing? Overexertion of self-control and dietary adherence in individuals with type 2 diabetes. British Journal of Health Psychology, 21, 648-659.

  • Rook*, K. S., August, K. J., Choi, S., Franks, M. M., & Stephens, M. A. P. (2016). Emotional reactivity to daily stress, spousal emotional support, and fasting blood glucose among patients with type 2 diabetes. Journal of Health Psychology, 21, 2538-2549.

  • Marini, C. M., MacDermid Wadsworth, S. M., Christ, S. L., & Franks, M. M. (2015). Emotion expression, avoidance and psychological health during reintegration: A dyadic analysis of actor and partner associations within a sample of military couples. Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, 32(8), 1-22. doi:10.1177/0265407515621180

  • Henry, S. L., Rook, K. S., Stephens, M. A. P., & Franks, M. M. (2014). Spousal undermining of older diabetic patients' disease management. Journal of Health Psychology, 19(2), 1550-1561. doi:10.1177/1359105312465913

  • Martire*, L. M., & Franks, M. M. (2014). The role of social networks in adult health: Introduction to the special issue. Health Psychology, 33, 501-504.

  • Hemphill, R., Stephens, M. A. P., Rook, K. S., Franks, M. M., & Salem, J. K. (2013). Older adults' beliefs about the timeline of type 2 diabetes and adherence to dietary regimens. Psychology and Health, 28(2), 139-153. doi:10.1080/08870446.2012.685740

  • Khan, C. M., Stephens, M. A. P., Franks, M. M., & Rook, K. S. (2013). Influences of spousal support and control on diabetes management through physical activity. Health Psychology, 32(7), 739-47. doi:10.1037/a0028609

  • Stephens, M. A. P., Franks, M. M., Rook, K. S., Iida, M., Hemphill, R., & Salem, J. K. (2013). Spouses’ attempts to regulate day-to-day dietary adherence among patients with type 2 diabetes. Health Psychology, 32(10), 1029-37. doi:10.1037/a0030018

  • Franks, M. M., Hemphill, R., Seidel, A. J., Stephens, M. A. P., Rook, K. S., & Salem, J. K. (2012). Setbacks in diet adherence and emotional distress: A study of older patients with type 2 diabetes and their spouses. Aging & Mental Health, 16(7), 902-910. doi:10.1080/13607863.2012.674486

  • Franks, M. M., Sahin, Z. S., Seidel, A. J., Shields, C. G., Oates, S. K., & Boushey, C. J. (2012). Table for two: Diabetes distress and diet-related interactions of married patients with type 2 diabetes and their spouses. Families, Systems, & Health, 30, 154-165. 

  • Franks, M. M., Shields, C. G., Sands, L., Lim, E., Mobley, S., & Boushey, C. J. (2012). I will if you will: Similarity in health behavior change of married partners. Health, Education, & Behavior, 39, 324-331.  doi:10/1177/1090198111402824 

  • August, K., Rook, K. S., Stephens, M. A. P., & Franks, M. M. (2011). Are spouses of chronically ill patients burdened by exerting health-related social control? Journal of Health Psychology, 16, 1109-1119. 

  • Fingerman, K. L., Pitzer, L. M., Chan, W., Birditt, K., Franks, M. M., & Zarit, S. (2011).  Who gets what and why?: Help middle-aged adults provide to parents and grown children. Journal of Gerontology: Social Sciences, 66B, 87-98.

  • Fisher, G. G., Franks, M. M., Plassman, B. L., Brown, S. L., Potter, G. G., Llewellyn, D., Rogers, M. A. M., & Langa, K. M. (2011). Caring for individuals with dementia and CIND: Findings from the Aging, Demographics, and Memory Study. Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, 59, 488-494. 

  • Rook, K. S., August, K., Stephens, M. A. P., Franks, M. M., & Salem, J. (2011). When does spousal social control provoke negative reactions in the context of chronic illness: The pivotal role of patients’ expectations. Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, 28, 772-789. 

  • Tkatch, R., Artinian, N. T., Abrams, J., Franks, M. M., Keteyian, S. J., Pienta, A. M., Franklin, B. A., & Schwartz, S. (2011). Social networks and health outcomes among African American cardiac rehabilitation patients. Heart & Lung, 40, 193-200.

  • Franks, M. M., Lucas, T., Stephens, M. A. P., Rook, K. S., & Gonzalez, R. (2010). Diabetes distress and depressive symptoms: A dyadic investigation of older patients and their spouses. Family Relations, 59, 599-610.

  • Stephens, M. A. P., Rook, K. S., Franks, M. M., Khan, C. M., & Iida, M. (2010). Spouses’ use of social control to improve diabetic patients’ dietary adherence. Families, Systems and Health, 28, 199-208.  

  • Iida, M., Stephens, M. A. P., Rook, K. S., Franks, M. M., & Salem, J. K. (2010). When the going gets tough, does support get going? Determinants of spousal support provision to type 2 diabetic patients. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 36, 780-791.

  • Artinian, N. T., Abrams, J., Keteyian, S. J., Franks, M. M., Franklin, B., Pienta, A., Tkatch, R., Cuff, L., Alexander, P., & Schwartz, S. (2009). Correlates of depression at baseline among African Americans enrolled in cardiac rehabilitation. Journal of Cardiopulmonary Rehabilitation and Prevention, 29, 24-31.

  • Stephens, M. A. P., Fekete, E. M., Franks, M. M., Rook, K. S., Druley, J. A., & Greene, K. (2009). Spouses' use of pressure and persuasion to promote osteoarthritis patients' medical adherence after orthopedic surgery. Health Psychology, 48-55.

  • Eggly, S., Albrecht, T. L., Harper, F. W., Foster, T., Franks, M. M., & Ruckdeschel, J. C. (2008). Oncologists recommendations of clinical trial participation to patients. Patient Education and Counseling, 70, 143-148.

  • Penner, L. A., Orom, H., Albrecht, T. L., Franks, M. M., Foster, T. S., & Ruckdeschel, J. C. (2007). Camera-related behaviors during video recorded medical interactions. Journal of Nonverbal Behavior, 31, 99-117.

  • Franks, M. M., Stephens, M. A. P., Rook, K. S., Franklin, B. A., Keteyian, S. J., & Artinian, N. T. (2006). Spouses' provision of health-related support and control to patients participating in cardiac rehabilitation. Journal of Family Psychology, 20, 311-318.

  • Bookwala, J., & Franks, M. M. (2005). The role of marital quality in older adults' depressed affect: Beyond the ‘main effects' model. Journal of Gerontology: Psychological Sciences, 60B, P338-P341.

  • Hong, T. B., Franks, M. M., Gonzalez, R., Keteyian, S. J., Franklin, B. A., & Artinian, N. T. (2005). A dyadic investigation of exercise support between cardiac patients and spouses. Health Psychology, 24, 430-434.

  • Albrecht, T. L ., Franks, M. M., & Ruckdeschel, J. C. (2005). Communication and informed consent. Current Opinion in Oncology, 17, 336-339.

  • Franks, M. M., Wendorf, C. A., Gonzalez, R., & Ketterer, M. W. (2004). Aid and influence: Health promoting exchanges of older married partners. Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, 21, 431-445.

  • Franks, M. M., Herzog, A. R., Holmberg, D., & Markus, H. R. (2003). Self-complexity: Linking age and education with self-rated health and depression. Hallym International Journal of Aging, 5, 91-110.

  • Cremeans-Smith, J. K., Stephens, M. A. P., Franks, M. M., Druley, J. A., Martire, L. M., & Wojno, W. C. (2003). Dyadic agreement between role partners' perceptions of pain severity: The relationship between agreement status and patient well-being. Pain, 106, 27-34.

  • Franks, M. M., Pierce, L. S., & Dwyer, J. W. (2003). Expected parent-care involvement of adult children. Journal of Applied Gerontology, 22, 104-117.

  • Franks, M. M., Lichtenberg, P. A., MacNeill, S. E., & Bank, A. (2003). Activity limitation and depression: Perspectives of older African American women and their close companion. Rehabilitation Psychology, 48, 50-55.

  • Pierce, L. S., Hong, T. B., Franks, M. M., & Ketterer, M. W. (2002). Health-related interactions and the self in marriage. Journal of Women & Aging, 14, 149-164.

  • Franks, M. M., Hong, T. B., Pierce, L. S., & Ketterer, M. W. (2002). The association of patients' psychosocial well-being with self and spouse ratings of patient health. Family Relations, 51, 22-27.

  • Franks, M. M., Pienta, A. M., & Wray, L. A. (2002). It takes two: Marriage and smoking cessation in the middle years. Journal of Aging and Health, 14, 336-354


  • 1993, PhD, Kent State University (Social/Health Psychology; Mentor: M. A. P. Stephens)

  • 1990, MA, Kent State University (Social/Health Psychology; Mentor: M. A. P. Stephens)

  • 1988, BS, Northern Kentucky University (Psychology with honors; Mentor: G. D. Goedel)

Courses Recently Taught

  • HDFS 201: Introduction to Family Processes

  • HDFS 590: Health in a Social Context

Honors (Selected)

  • 2016: Fellow, Gerontological Society of America

  • 2011: Editorial Appreciation Award, Health Psychology

  • 2008: Hancook Faculty Fellow, Center for Families, Purdue University

  • 2002: Funding to attend the Summer Workshop on Bereavement and Aging Utilizing the Changing Lives of Older Couples (CLOC) Data, University of Michigan

  • 2002: Invited to participate in Research Retreat on Health Dynamics in Old Age, Spring 2002, Sponsored by University of Michigan's Claude Pepper Older Americans Independence Center (OAIC), Geriatric Center, Health and Retirement Survey, and Michigan Center of the Demography of Aging.

  • 2000: Selected to attend Spring 2000 Conference on the Future of Health Psychology, APA Division 38

External Grants

  • Co-Investigator, Mind-Body Interactions in Management of Type 2 Diabetes. National Institute on Aging (R01 AG024833-01). Mary Ann Parris Stephens (PI). Period: 09/30/04 – 07/31/09. Total: $1,659,121.

  • Co-Investigator, The Role of Social Relationships and Self-Efficacy in Diabetes Management. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (R21 DK078894-01). Wray, L. A. (PI). Period 09/2008 – 06/2010.

Professional Service

  • 2013-present: NIH Fellowships: Risk, Prevention and Health Behavior Review Group

  • 2016: Swiss National Science Foundation Grant Review

  • 2013-2016: Associate Editor, Health Psychology

  • 2013: Guest Editor, Health Psychology, The Role of Social Networks in Adult Health

Journal Review

  • 2008-present: Editorial Board, Journal of Family Psychology

Grant Review

  • 2007: Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada

  • 2004: Anthony Marchionne Foundation Small Grants Program

  • 2004: Michael Smith Foundation for Health Research Career Awards Competition

  • 2004-2005: National Cancer Institute, Small Grants for Behavioral Research in Cancer Control

  • 2003-2005: Initial Review Board of the Medical and Scientific Advisory Council, Alzheimer's Association

  • 2000: Initial Review Board of the Medical and Scientific Advisory Council, Alzheimer's Association

Ad Hoc Reviewer (2007 - present)

Journal of Aging and Health, Journal of Gerontology: Psychological Science, Journal of Gerontology: Social Science, Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, Journal of Applied Social Psychology, Psychology and Aging

Melissa Franks

Associate Professor

(Pronouns: she/her/hers)

Courtesy Appointment:
   Psychological Sciences

Faculty Associate:
   Center for Families
   Center on Aging and the Life
   Department of Public Health

(PhD, Kent State University)

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