Category: Couples / Close Relationships


Do Disadvantaged Couples Benefit From Online Interventions?

Friday, November 17
1:45 PM - 3:15 PM
Location: Aqua Salon E & F, Level 3, Aqua Level

Keywords: Couple Therapy | Randomized Controlled Trial | Internet
Presentation Type: Symposium

Technological advances in web-based couple interventions provide great opportunity for the field to overcome common barriers faced by disadvantaged, underserved populations. Research has shown mixed evidence that the inclusion of paraprofessional support in web-based couple interventions allows for greater engagement in, and completion of, program content compared to self-guided programs (Dear et al., 2015; Roddy et al., 2016). Furthermore, very little is known about couple or individual factors that may moderate these effects. As such, more research is needed to better understand both the role of paraprofessional support and whether some couples would be able to complete web-based programs with less support.

To address this question, a randomized controlled trial of (OR) was conducted to compare the effects of low versus high paraprofessional support on program outcomes in a sample of 356 heterosexual couples. Participants in the low support condition had one fifteen-minute support session while participants in the high support condition had four fifteen-minute sessions with a graduate-level relationship coach.

HLM analyses revealed that couples in both conditions significantly improved on measures of relationship satisfaction (within-group d = 0.52 and 0.61, respectively), depression (within-group d = -0.43 and -0.59, respectively), and anxiety (within-group d = -0.47 and -0.71, respectively). Between-groups analyses revealed that couples with high support experienced significantly greater gains in anxiety (b = 1.215, p = 0.010). Subsequent analyses investigated whether race, ethnicity, and household income moderated intervention effects, but found no significant time X condition X predictor interactions.

These results suggest that both high and low levels of paraprofessional support yield significant improvements in relationship and individual functioning. Furthermore, the minimal additional benefit provided by higher levels of paraprofessional support did not vary by important demographic factors, suggesting that web-based interventions with low levels of support may be a cost-effective way to support historically underserved couples.

Karen Rothman

University of Miami


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Do Disadvantaged Couples Benefit From Online Interventions?

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