The overarching aim of this proposal is to continue a large-scale community based prevention trial of a marriage education program (PREP, Prevention and Relationship Enhancement Program) delivered in Religious Organizations (ROs) to premarital couples. This program is designed to lower risk factors and raise protective factors for marital distress and associated mental health problems. Given the strong links between marital distress and mental disorders, efforts to prevent mental disorder due to marital conflict has substantial advantages over later and more costly treatment. Targeting ROs as a delivery system is important as ROs already serve as a less stigmatizing resource for prevention and counseling for many people who will not seek services from a mental health professional. This work assesses the value of preventing (vs. treating) mental disorders through maximizing functioning during a critical adulthood transition (i.e., entering marriage). This work proposes to follow an existing sample of 217 couples into a high risk period for distress and divorce (years 5-10 of marriage) in order to assess the long-term/durable preventative effects of premarital intervention on marital distress and symptoms of mental disorders. We will also test and refine our theoretical model of how targeted risk (e.g., negative interactions) and protective factors (e.g., confidence in handling conflicts) are linked over time to marital distress and mental disorder. Benefits include enhancing existing """"""""natural"""""""" interventions in the community (premarital counseling) and of reaching a population who might not seek services through the traditional mental health system (e.g., men, minority group members).

National Institute of Health (NIH)
Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health & Human Development (NICHD)
Research Project (R01)
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Study Section
Community-Level Health Promotion Study Section (CLHP)
Program Officer
Bures, Regina M
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University of Denver
Schools of Arts and Sciences
United States
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Markman, Howard J; Ritchie, Lane L (2015) Couples Relationship Education and Couples Therapy: Healthy Marriage or Strange Bedfellows? Fam Process 54:655-71
Peterson-Post, Kristina M; Rhoades, Galena K; Stanley, Scott M et al. (2014) Perceived criticism and marital adjustment predict depressive symptoms in a community sample. Behav Ther 45:564-75
Whitton, Sarah W; Stanley, Scott M; Markman, Howard J et al. (2013) Attitudes Toward Divorce, Commitment, and Divorce Proneness in First Marriages and Remarriages. J Marriage Fam 75:276-287
Scott, Shelby B; Rhoades, Galena K; Stanley, Scott M et al. (2013) Reasons for Divorce and Recollections of Premarital Intervention: Implications for Improving Relationship Education. Couple Family Psychol 2:131-145
Markman, Howard J; Rhoades, Galena K; Stanley, Scott M et al. (2013) A randomized clinical trial of the effectiveness of premarital intervention: moderators of divorce outcomes. J Fam Psychol 27:165-72
Hawkins, Alan J; Stanley, Scott M; Cowan, Philip A et al. (2013) A more optimistic perspective on government-supported marriage and relationship education programs for lower income couples. Am Psychol 68:110-1
Wadsworth, Martha E; Markman, Howard J (2012) Where's the action? Understanding what works and why in relationship education. Behav Ther 43:99-112
Stanley, Scott M; Ragan, Erica P; Rhoades, Galena K et al. (2012) Examining changes in relationship adjustment and life satisfaction in marriage. J Fam Psychol 26:165-70
Markman, Howard J; Rhoades, Galena K (2012) Relationship education research: current status and future directions. J Marital Fam Ther 38:169-200
Rhoades, Galena K; Stanley, Scott M (2011) Using Individual-oriented Relationship Education to Prevent Family Violence. J Couple Relatsh Ther 10:185-200

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