Category: Couples / Close Relationships

Symposium

Mediators of Community-Based Relationship Education Effectiveness With Low-Income Couples

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

Keywords: Couples / Close Relationships | Community-Based Assessment / Intervention | Randomized Controlled Trial
Presentation Type: Symposium

Relationship education (RE) is an efficacious intervention for improving relationship quality and lowering the risk of divorce (Markman & Rhoades, 2012). These effects have been demonstrated for disadvantaged couples as well, including low-income couples (e.g., Rienks, Wadsworth, Markman, Einhorn, & Etter, 2011). However, recent controversies about the effectiveness of RE programs when they are implemented in “real-world” community contexts (Cowan & Cowan, 2014) have prompted researchers to more closely examine the mechanisms that underlie the positive effects of these interventions. The current study used data from the baseline and 12-month follow-up assessments of the Supporting Healthy Marriages (SHM) study, a large-scale, government-funded randomized trial of RE provided to low-income couples with children, to test whether improvements in communication and commitment would mediate the impact of RE on relationship quality and stability. SHM involved 6,298 couples (12,596 individuals) across eight U.S. sites. Our analyses used multilevel mediation models (see Zhang, Zyphur, & Preacher, 2008) to account for the nested nature of the data, representing an improvement over single-level regression analyses used in previously published reports of SHM results (e.g., Hsueh et al., 2012). Our results demonstrated that couples who were randomly assigned to receive the RE intervention reported greater relationship happiness and warmth and less conflict and psychological abuse at the 12-month follow-up. Further, supporting our hypothesis, bootstrapped Monte Carlo mediation tests (Tofighi & MacKinnon, 2011) indicated that gains in both communication and commitment partially mediated each of these intervention effects. Discussion will address the roles of communication and commitment in solidifying relationships in a context of economic disadvantage.

Kayla Knopp

Graduate Student
University of Denver

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