Category: Couples / Close Relationships
Keywords: Couples / Close Relationships | Couple Therapy | Dissemination
Presentation Type: Symposium
Although popular articles often report that the overall divorce rate is stabilizing, couples with lower education levels, lower-income levels, and ethnic and minority couples are marrying at a lower rate, divorcing at a higher rate, and more likely to engage in serial cohabitation (e.g., Kennedy & Ruggles, in press). Historically, relationship education programs designed to counteract these problems have struggled with the structural barriers to treatment that economically disadvantaged populations encounter, such as difficulty making time for classes, transportation, child-care, and other social barriers, such as stigma for professional help-seeking and discomfort sharing in a group setting. Consequently, programs wishing to extend their reach into the highest-risk populations require flexible delivery (e.g., Halford, 2004). Additionally, Hawkins and Erickson (2015) noted the dismal levels of program engagement and called for more innovative implementation methods. In particular, they noted that briefer and less intensive programs might be more effective in attracting and retaining participants and still provide a positive impact on their relationship functioning. Finally, in the past, relationship education programs have focused on improving communication skills but it is questionable whether this focus is the best target for relationship healthcare (see Owen, Manthos, & Quirk, 2013); more recently, programs have begun to test strategies targeted toward motivational and affective systems (e.g., Bradbury & Lavner, 2012). A new relationship healthcare program, the Marriage Checkup (MC) addresses many of these issues, and this presentation describes a recent project that further tailored this intervention to meet the needs of a low-income population by implementing it as a home visitation program. Results from 650 couples suggest that overall this program was effective in improving couples’ relationships across multiple domains, including aggression, with small but significant effect sizes. However, these outcomes were significantly moderated by a number of demographic variables. In sum, more distressed and disadvantaged couples showed significantly more improvement, with effect sizes in the large range, suggesting that this program showed the greatest impact on couples who needed it most. Implications and future directions for these findings will be discussed.
University of Tennessee, Knoxville
Friday, November 17
1:45 PM – 3:15 PM
Saturday, November 18
3:30 PM – 5:00 PM
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