Luciana Laganà

Luciana Lagana
(818) 677-2827
Office location:
ST 314



  • Post-Doctoral Research Training, 1996-1998, Psychosocial Treatment Laboratory, Stanford University School of Medicine
  • Clinical Post-Doctoral Fellowship, 1996-1997, Department of Adult Psychiatry, Kaiser Permanente Santa Clara
  • Psychiatry/Behavioral Medicine Internship, 1995-1996, University of Chicago Medical School
  • Post-Doctoral Research Training, 1994-1996, Sex and Marital Therapy Program, Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Northwestern University Medical Faculty Foundation
  • APA-Approved Post-Doctoral Respecialization in Clinical Psychology, 1995, Illinois Institute of Technology
  • Ph.D., 1992, University of Georgia (Experimental/Cognitive Psychology)
  • Graduate Certificate in Gerontology, 1992, Gerontology Center, University of Georgia
  • M.S., 1989, University of Georgia (Experimental/Cognitive Psychology)
  • Summa cum Laude Psychology Degree, 1985 Department of Psychology, University of Rome "La Sapienza"

Specialty Areas: women's issues, adult behavioral medicine/health psychology, ethnogeriatrics, sex and marital therapy, anti-bias film-based research


  • (2017)  CSUN Exceptional Creative Accomplishment(s) Award. (Nature of the Award: One faculty member each year is awarded the Exceptional Creative Accomplishment(s) Award.  The award honors exceptional creativity embodied in music, dance, film, a work of art, a theatrical production, or a written work.  The award is generously supported by the University Foundation and carries a prize of $1,200.)    
  • (2011) CSUN Preeminent Scholarly Publications Award. (Nature of the Award: One faculty member each year is awarded the Preeminent Scholarly Publication(s) Award. The award is intended to honor the best original written work – article, essay, or book – or body of works on a single subject, written by a CSUN faculty member. The award is generously supported by the University Foundation and carries a prize of $1,200.)                              
  • (2008) CSUN Visionary Community Service-Learning Award. (Nature of the Award: One faculty member each year is awarded the Visionary Community Service-Learning Award. The award is intended to honor the faculty member who has made the most outstanding contribution to the betterment of students and the community through a service-learning class or classes. Community service-learning combines explicit academic learning objectives, preparation, and reflection with meaningful work in the community. Students participating in community service-learning provide direct service, education and outreach, research and/or policy analysis to schools, nonprofit, and/or public organizations as part of their requirement for academic credit, while professors help them understand the connection between the tasks they perform and their academic course work. The award is generously supported by the Center for Community Service-Learning and carries a prize of $1,200.)
  • (2006) Scientific Achievement Award from Councilman Smith          
  • (2001) Exceptional Merit/National Waiver Green Card Award                                                         
  • (1992) American Psychological Association Dissertation Research Award                

Courses Taught

  • Psy 230 - Human Sexual Behavior
  • Psy 310 - Behavior Disorders
  • Psy 365 - Introduction to Gerontology
  • Psy 421J - Workshop on Developmental Sexuality
  • Psy 421M - Workshop on Conflict Resolution in Intimate Relations
  • Psy 421N - Workshop on Human Sexuality/Sexual Disorders
  • Psy 465 - Psychology of Aging


Laganá, L., Balian, O.A., Nakhla, M.Z., Zizumbo, J., & Greenberg, S. (2021). A preliminary model of health regarding sexual and ethnic minority older adults. Culture, Health & Sexuality, 23(3), 333-348. DOI: 10.1080/13691058.2019.1710566.

Sosa, G., & Laganá, L. (2019). The effects of video game training on the cognitive functioning of older adults: A community-based randomized controlled trial. Archives of Gerontology and Geriatrics, 80, 20-30.

Laganá, L., Sosa, G., Nakhla, M.Z., & Toscano, D. (2018). Cognitive gains from video game use in older age: A review of the literature corroborating them. International Journal of Family & Community Medicine, 2(1), 11‒17. DOI: 10.15406/ijfcm.2018.02.00029.

Alpizar, D., Laganá, L., Plunkett, S.W., & French, B.F. (2018). Evaluating the eight-item Patient Health Questionnaire's psychometric properties with Mexican and Central American descent university students. Psychological Assessment, 30(6), 719-728.

Laganá, L., Arellano, K., & Alpizar, D. (2017). Cognitive functioning, health screening behaviors and desire to improve one’s health in diabetic versus healthy older women. Journal of Advances in Medicine and Medical Research, 23(5), 1-13, doi: 10.9734/JAMMR/2017/34173,

Laganá, L., Gavrilova, L., Carter, D., & Ainsworth, A. (2017). A randomized controlled study on the effects of a documentary on students’ empathy and attitudes towards older adults. Psychology and Cognitive Sciences, 3(3), 79-88, doi: 10.17140/PCSOJ-3-127,

Alamdari, G., & Lagana`, L. (2016). The relationship of older adults’ physical pain to depression and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD): A review. Journal of Geriatric Medicine and Gerontology, 1(2),

Laganà, L., & Prilutsky. R. (2016). A Pilot Psychometric Study on the Validation of the Older Women’s Non-Medical Stress Scale (OWN-MSS) on an Ethnically Diverse Sample. Journal of Geriatrics and Palliative Care, 4(1).

Mamikonian-Zarpas, A., & Laganá, L. (2015). The relationship between older adults’ risk for a future fall and difficulty performing activities of daily living. Journal of Aging and Gerontology, 3, 8-16,

Lagana`, Fobair, P., & Spiegel, D. (2014). Targeting the psychosexual challenges faced by couples with breast cancer: can couples group psychotherapy help? Journal of Women’s Health Care, 3(6), doi: 10.4172/2167-0420.1000205, 

Maciel, M., & Lagana`, L. (2014). Older women’s sexual desire problems: Biopsychosocial factors impacting them and barriers to their clinical assessment. Biomed Central Research International – Obstetrics and Gynaecology, Article ID 107217,

Lagana`, L., Bloom, D.W., & Ainsworth, A. (2013). Urinary incontinence: Its assessment and relationship to depression among community dwelling multi-ethnic older women. The Scientific World Journal,

Lagana`, L., & Garcia, J.J. (2013). The mental health impact of computer and internet training on a multi-ethnic sample of community-dwelling older adults: Results of a pilot randomised controlled trial. International Journal of Biomedical science, 9(3),

Laganá, L., White, T., Bruzzone, D.E., & Bruzzone, C.E. (2013). Exploring the sexuality of African American older women. British Journal of Medicine & Medical Research, 4(5), 1129-1148,

White, T., & Laganá, L. (2013). Factors influencing older black women’s sexual functioning and their disclosure of sexual concerns. OA Women’s Health, 1(1), 10,

Oliver, T. L., Laganà, L., Ainsworth, A., & Otten, M. (2012). A path analysis testing the relationship between sexual upbringing and sexual satisfaction in a U.S. sample of ethnically diverse women. In S. Mottola (Ed.). Sexuality: Perspectives, Issues and Role in Society. Hauppauge, NY: Nova Science Publishers.

Plunkett, S., W., & Lagana`, L. (2012). The controversies surrounding the sexuality education of people living with developmental disabilities. In S. Mottola (Ed.). Sexuality: Perspectives, Issues and Role in Society. Hauppauge, NY: Nova Science Publishers.

Covington, K., Laganà, L., & White, T. R. (2012). Economic coping and head of households’ perception of family health. In S. Mottola (Ed.). Psychology of Coping: New Research. Hauppauge, NY: Nova Science Publishers.

Laganà, L., Tramutolo, C., Boncori, L., & Cruciani, A. C. (2012). Community-dwelling adults versus older adults: Psychopathology and the continuum hypothesis. Educational Gerontology, 38(6), 412-428, doi: 10.1080/03601277.2011.559853.

Laganà, L., & Hassija, C.M. (2012). Bodily pain and coping strategies among four geriatric age groups of multiethnic women. Journal of Health Psychology, 17(4), 545-555. doi: 10.1177/1359105311421045.

Laganà, L., Bratly, M.L., & Boutakidis, I. (2011). Validation of a new measure quantifying the social quality of life of ethnically diverse older women: two cross-sectional studies. BMC Geriatrics, 11, 60, doi: 10.1186/1471-2318-11-60.

Laganà, L., Spellman, T., Wakefield, J., & Oliver, T. (2011). Ethnic minority status, depression, and cognitive failures in relation to marital adjustment in ethnically diverse older women. Clinical Gerontologist, 34, 1-17, doi:10.1080/07317115.2011.554627.

Laganà, L., Oliver, T., Ainsworth, A., & Edwards, M. (2011). Enhancing computer self-efficacy and attitudes in multiethnic older adults: A randomized controlled study. Ageing & Society, 31(6), 911-933, doi:10.1017/S0144686X10001340.

Caldwell Sacerdoti, R., Laganà, L., & Koopman, C. (2010). Altered sexuality and body image after gynecological cancer treatment: How can psychologists help? Professional Psychology: Research and Practice, 41(6), 533-540, doi: 10.1037/a0021428.

Laganà, L., & Maciel, M. (2010). Sexual desire among Mexican-American older women: A qualitative study. Culture, Health & Sexuality, 12(6), 705-719, doi: 10.1080/13691058.2010.482673.

Laganà, L., & Zarankin, K. (2010). A cross-sectional study on health and physical functioning in relation to coping strategies among community-dwelling, ethnically diverse older women. BioMed Central (BMC) Women's Health, 10(10), doi:10.1186/1472-6874-10-10,

Laganà, L., & Reger, S. L. (2009). A pilot study on perceived stress and PTSD symptomatology in relation to four dimensions of older women’s physical health. Aging and Mental Health, 13(6), 885-893, doi: 10.1080/13607860903004023.

Laganà, L., & Schuitevoerder, S. (2009). Pilot testing a new short screen for the assessment of older women’s PTSD symptomatology. Educational Gerontology, 35(8), 732-751, doi: 10.1080/03601270802708442.

Laganà, L. (2008). Enhancing the attitudes and self-efficacy of older adults towards computers and the Internet: Results of a pilot study. Educational Gerontology, 34, 831-843. doi: 10.1080/03601270802243713,

Laganà, L., Kim, B., & Sosa, G. (2008). Relating two distinct dimensions of spirituality to older women's physical and mental health. Perspectives (formerly "The American Association of Behavioral and Social Sciences Web Journal"), Fall 2008.

Lagana`, L. (2007). Empowering older women through Service Learning research. In G. B. Stahly (Ed.), Gender identity, equity, and violence: Multidisciplinary perspectives through service learning. Sterling, Virginia: Stylus Publishing.

Laganà, L. (2006). Using the research process to enhance civic engagement. In J.L. Perry and S.G. Jones (Eds.), Quick Hits for Educating Citizens. Bloomington, Indiana: Indiana University Press.

Laganà, L., Classen, C., Caldwell, R., McGarvey, E., Baum, L., Cheasty, E., & Koopman, C. (2005). Sexual difficulties of patients with gynecological cancer. Professional Psychology: Research and Practice, 36(4), 391-399.

Laganà, L., & Sosa, G. (2004). Depression among ethnically diverse older women: The role of demographic and cognitive factors. Educational Gerontology, 30(10), 801-820.

Caldwell, R., Classen, C., Laganà, L., McGarvey, E., Baum, L., Duenke, S.D., & Koopman, C. (2003). Changes in sexual functioning and mood among women treated for gynecological cancer who receive group therapy: A pilot Study. Journal of Clinical Psychology in Medical Settings, 10(3), 149-156.

Laganà, L. (2003). Using Service-Learning research to enhance the elderly's quality of life. Educational Gerontology, 29(8), 685-701.

Laganà, L., Chen, X., Koopman, C., Classen, C., Kimerling, R., & Spiegel, D. (2002). Depressive symptomatology in relation to emotional control and chronic pain in persons who are HIV-positive. Rehabilitation Psychology, 47(4), 402-414.

Laganà, L., & Shanks, S. (2002).  Mutual biases underlying the problematic relationship between older adults and mental health providers: Any solution in sight? International Journal of Aging and Human Development, 55(3), 271-295.

Laganà, L., & Rubin, M. (2002). Methodological challenges and potential solutions for the incorporation of sound community-based research into Service-Learning. In A. Furco & S.H. Billig (Eds.), Advances in Service-Learning Research - Volume I: Service Learning: The essence of the pedagogy. Greenwich, CT: Information Age Publishing.

Laganà, L., McGarvey, E.L., Classen, C., & Koopman, C. (2001). Psychosexual dysfunction among gynecological cancer survivors. Journal of Clinical Psychology in Medical Settings, 8(2), 73-84.

Peters, L., Simon, E., Folen, R. A., Umphress, V, & Laganà, L. (2000). The COPE program: Treatment efficacy and medical utilization outcome of a chronic pain management program at a major military hospital. Military Medicine, 165(12), 954-960.

Hart, S., Gore-Felton, C., Maldonado, J., Laganà, L., Blake-Mortimer, J., Israelski, D., Koopman, C., & Spiegel, D. (2000).  The relationship between pain and coping styles among HIV-positive men and women. Psychology and Health, 15(6), 869-879.

Laganà, L. (1999).  Psychosocial correlates of contraceptive practices during late adolescence. Adolescence, 34(135), 463-482.

Laganà, L. (1995).  Older adults' expectations about psychological counseling:  A multivariate and discriminant analysis.  International Journal of Aging and Human Development, 41(1), 297-316.

Laganà, L., & Hayes, D. H. (1993).  Contraceptive health programs for adolescents: A critical review. Adolescence, 28(110), 347-359.

Cassisi, J. E., Sypert, G. W., Laganà, L., Friedman, E. M., & Robinson, M. E. (1993). Pain, disability, and psychological functioning in chronic low back pain subgroups: Myofascial versus herniated disc syndrome. Neurosurgery, 33(3), 379-386. 

Research Interests and Research Opportunities for Students

Research interests: I am a clinical and an experimental psychologist involved in research at the graduate and undergraduate level. My research interests are: gerontology, women's issues, adult behavioral medicine/health psychology, sex and couple therapy, ethnogeriatric psychometrics, and testing the anti-bias effects of original films covering discriminated minorities of all kinds.

Students (at sophomore, junior, senior, and graduate levels) who join my research team often acquire one or two research conference presentations, and at times a publication (or more if they are highly motivated): this contributes to making their applications to doctoral programs stronger. Some of my former students are completing their doctoral degrees at prestigious Universities or have become faculty at highly-regarded Universities. In the course of each semester, students can sign up for new and ongoing research projects. I encourage students to get involved in research endeavors as early as possible, in order to identify their scientific and creative talents and to focus on fostering their development.

My interdisciplinary team is comprised of students enrolled at CSUN or at other research institutions, from a variety of disciplines – including psychology, film, TV, journalism, animation, sociology, public health, and kinesiology. Working on my research projects may lead to co-authorship of articles in peer-reviewed journals and to film production and post-production credits. Lab members are using their creativity in film-based anti-bias research, scientific writing, as well as concisely reviewing empirical literature, developing and testing innovative hypotheses, collecting and analyzing data, and proposing research and clinical recommendations based on our research findings. Motivated lab members come up with their own potential research projects on topics related to my research interests.

Research projects: Research projects currently in progress in my lab - the "CSUN Behavioral Medicine Laboratory" (funded by NIH since 2002) – include:

1) Studies on the medical, psychosocial, and sexual needs of high-functioning older women from a variety of ethnic backgrounds, and on enhancing the quality of life of multi-ethnic older adults by training them in Internet use for informational and social purposes. My current grant funds innovative research on older women living with diverse levels of pain regarding their medical collaboration with their physicians and their engagement in advised health behaviors that could contribute to lower pain levels.

The research goals of this grant target:

  • Average physical pain levels across major ethnic/racial groups.
  • Risk and protective factors for pain in older age.
  • The testing of my original model of physical pain in older age. Moreover, to fill gaps in the psychometric literature, the creation and validation of a measure to assess aspects of the relationship between patients and their health care providers (I have created many measures and have validated them on several ethnic minority populations). 

I also have a variety of cross-sectional and short-term longitudinal, self-report survey data sets that I have collected over the years at CSUN; students in my lab are using them to create research posters and to write articles with me. 

2) Experiments to test whether the social impact films that I create and use in film-based research could be successful at a) reducing stereotypes and b) increasing empathy towards discriminated minorities of different kinds. My research films cover topics including under-treatment of the physical pain of ethnic/racial minorities, falling in older age, living with a disability, LGBTQ discrimination and homelessness. Lab members who are interested in 1) giving a voice to neglected minorities via video/film and 2) testing whether viewing these films could have a positive impact on people’s attitudes typically find participating in this type of research fulfilling, as they creatively combine social impact film-making with research work. These projects compete in many film festivals in the U.S. and worldwide, and have won several festival awards.

As to academic impact, these experimental film-based investigations fill a gap in the research literature. Also, they employ a creative approach to bias reduction. Concerning CSUN’s core values and mission, my films cover many of them - for instance, the value of respect for all people. In the “pain in older age” movie that we are currently testing for its potential anti-bias effects (pilot findings have been published in 2017), we have included the viewpoints of many older adults living with chronic pain. They often feel disrespected in their communities, even by medical professionals, who – given how challenging it is to address the causes of pain in older patients - frequently just prescribe pain medications for them (which could further hurt the health of older adults). We have also included interviews with several national experts in the area of pain management, who are working very hard to create more effective pain treatment options. Regarding global impact, these social impact films are faring well on the film festival circuit.