Category: Couples / Close Relationships

Symposium

Evaluating the Efficacy of a Minimal Self-Help Couples Treatment in Economically Disadvantaged Neighborhoods

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

Keywords: Couple Therapy | Self-Help | Couples / Close Relationships
Presentation Type: Symposium

As marriages are twice as likely to be disrupted in low-income communities (Bramlett & Mosher, 2002), it is important to disseminate relationship interventions across income boundaries. While online programs have the potential to reach families who cannot afford or make time for conventional behavioral therapies, it is unclear whether such programs can benefit these high risk couples. The present study investigates the efficacy of the Promoting Awareness & Improving Relationships program (PAIR) across various neighborhood contexts.


An online sample of 170 parenting couples (N=340 parents) were enrolled in a waitlist RCT of PAIR. Parents were assessed on various relationship processes at 0, 1, and 2 months. During their assigned 1-month treatment period, parents received invitations to a pre-screened list of films and online forms that helped guide them through relationship discussions prompted by those films. A small portion of parents (N=80) additionally completed a follow-up at 8-months to capture decay in treatment effects. Couples’ contact information was used to download census information about their neighborhood.


We created 3-level slope-intercept models in HLM with a dummy variable marking treatment completion. Additionally, a couple-level dichotomous variable was used to mark low SES neighborhoods. Analyses suggested PAIR’s treatment effect was moderated by neighborhood SES, showing positive increases in satisfaction for a majority of couples, but having no impact in low SES neighborhoods. Follow-up analyses on specific behavioral targets of PAIR revealed unmoderated increases in the depth of relationship discussions and responsiveness for both partners. However, a more complex picture emerged for hostile conflict behavior, where results suggested male partners reported increases in hostility across the PAIR program in low-SES neighborhoods and decreased hostile conflict in wealthier neighborhoods. Taken together, these findings highlight the importance of accounting for geographic diversity when investigating treatment effects, as generally positive treatments might have the potential to increase harmful behaviors in high-stress environments.

Dev Crasta

Doctoral Candidate
University of Rochester

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