We seek a continuation of a long-term effectiveness trial of a community-level intervention delivered before marriage and designed to improve the well-being of couples and families. The continuation would test the effectiveness of this intervention during the middle years of family development. We disseminated a research-based prevention and education program for couples in religious organizations (ROs) because ROs are the community organizations that offer premarital education programs for couples. The program (the Prevention and Relationship Enhancement Program (PREP) is designed to target risk and protective factors for marital distress that are associated with problems in individual an family functioning. In prior funding periods, ROs in the Denver metropolitan area were randomly assigned to three groups: 1) Naturally occurring premarital services, 2) PREP delivered by clergy (who were trained in PREP) in their own ROs, and 3) PREP delivered in a university setting. We have followed the resulting sample of couples from before marriage to an average of 13 years of marriage and have followed these ROs and their use of the prevention program for 15 years. The proposed continuation would allow us to continue following our samples through an average of 18 years of marriage/20 years post-training. Moreover, now that the majority of our couples have children, we propose adding child and family assessment using both self- and parent-report of children's functioning and that of their family, and, most importantly to the field, observational measures of children's interaction with their parents. Thus a continuation of this project is important for the prospective evaluation of intervention effects over time, especially for outcomes that accrue over time, such as divorce, and to provide this innovative extension into child and family assessment.
Our specific aims for the continuation are: 1) Evaluate the long-term preventive effects of a research-based prevention program for couples on divorce, marital quality over time (e.g., commitment, communication), and on adult functioning, 2) Evaluate the long-term preventive effects of the prevention program for children using self-report and observational methods, and 3) Build knowledge that will inform future prevention efforts. We have the only data set that we know of that has robust measures of communication, assessed by both observational and self-report measures, before marriage and over time (at many time points) along with rich self-report measurement of other important constructs such as relationship adjustment, confidence, commitment, and positive connections (e.g., support, fun, friendship) as well as measures of child and adult individual functioning. The proposed continuation is significant in the ways that it can advance scientific knowledge on the long-term effects of relationship education as well as on processes of marriage, divorce, and child outcomes over time.
The health and stability of marriages has been shown to be directly related to the mental health, physical health, and overall wellbeing of adults and children. Therefore, this study of the long- term outcomes for adults and children of community-based prevention strategies aimed at strengthening marriages has considerable public health importance.
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|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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