Category: Couples / Close Relationships


Marriage Checkup for U.S. Air Force Integrated Primary Care: Past, Present, and Future.

Saturday, November 18
3:30 PM - 5:00 PM
Location: Sapphire Ballroom K & L, Level 4, Sapphire Level

Keywords: Couples / Close Relationships | Military
Presentation Type: Symposium

Military couples face significant challenges to their relationships including demanding schedules, multiple deployments, and frequent moves. These stressors may contribute to increased divorce and separation rates (Cigrang et al., 2014a), depression, deficits in duty performance (Cigrang et al., 2014b) and suicide (Bush et al., 2013). While relationship stress is a primary concern for many men and women in the military (Gottman, Gottman, & Atkins, 2011), the majority of people suffering from distressed relationships do not seek formal help (Johnson et al, 2002; Snyder et al., in press).

In recognition of the limited reach and potential stigma of tertiary mental health treatment, the military services have implemented collaborative care models in primary care (Maguen, et al., 2010; Seal et al., 2011). In a collaborative care model, mental health providers are integrated into the primary care setting and serve as Internal Behavioral Health Consultants (IBHCs).  Despite the prevalence of marital problems in the military, there has been no effort toward development of marital interventions for primary care.

In order to address this need, we have ongoing program of research aimed at adapting the Marriage Checkup Model for use with military couples in a primary care setting.  This brief intervention includes assessment of the couple’s relationship history, strengths, and concerns and provides individualized feedback to the couple.  In 2014 we completed a feasibility study that adapted the Marriage Checkup to fit within three 30-minute appointments.   Seventeen military couples enrolled in an open trial and completed all three appointments.  We found improvements from baseline in relationship satisfaction, distress, and intimacy.  Participating couples and IBHCs rated the intervention positively (Cigrang et al., in press). 

In 2015 we were awarded a grant by the Department of Defense (DoD) to conduct an RCT of the Marriage Checkup adapted for military primary care.   The study will compare the Marriage Checkup to a 7-month wait list control condition.  A total of 250 couples will be enrolled at four Air Force primary care clinics over a three-year period.  The first couple was enrolled in the study in February 2016.  In this presentation we will review the beginnings of military Marriage Checkup, report on the status of the ongoing RCT, and outline our hopes for future training, dissemination, and implementation within the DoD. 

Jeffrey Cigrang

Wright State University School of Professional Psychology


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Marriage Checkup for U.S. Air Force Integrated Primary Care: Past, Present, and Future.

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