Although several empirically-supported interventions to prevent and treat relationship distress have been developed, the majority of couples - especially high-risk couples - do not seek these face-to-face interventions. However, our pilot data indicate that large numbers of couples will seek self-administered assistance for their relationship. Additionally, unlike many in-person interventions, couples seeking self-help resources tend to have higher levels of relationship distress. Thus, to improve the reach of couple interventions, this project will translate a leading empirically-supported intervention targeting early signs of relationship distress into a Web-based format. This intervention will consist of individualized feedback and professionally-filmed video clips tailored to a couple's specific needs. By intervening effectively with a large number of couples, the resulting Web-based intervention has the potential to have a population-level impact on relationship distress, divorce, and resulting child difficulties. In the proposed project, building off our previous pilot studies, effective translation of this in-person intervention into a Web-based format will be ensured by conducting two additional intensive pilot studies. Once final changes have been made to the website and Web-based intervention, 450 couples will be randomly assigned to one of three conditions: a wait-list control group, a tailored feedback group, and a tailored feedback + Web- based intervention group. This project will: 1) demonstrate that couples randomly assigned to the Feedback- only as well as the Feedback + Intervention groups will report higher levels of individual, child, and relationship functioning than those in the wait-list control group;2) document the mechanisms of both active conditions;and 3) show that, consistent with a motivational interviewing approach, the interventions will facilitate subsequent help-seeking behaviors for individual and relationship difficulties not fully addressed by the Web- based intervention.

Public Health Relevance

Relationship distress and divorce have profound effects on child and adult physical and psychological functioning. While numerous marital interventions have been shown to be effective in preventing further relationship deterioration, these interventions are not widely available. The proposed project will translate a leading empirically-based couple intervention targeting early signs of relationship distress into a Web-based format so it can be disseminated on a population level.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health & Human Development (NICHD)
Research Project (R01)
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Psychosocial Development, Risk and Prevention Study Section (PDRP)
Program Officer
Bures, Regina M
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University of Miami Coral Gables
Schools of Arts and Sciences
Coral Gables
United States
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Doss, Brian D; Feinberg, Leah K; Rothman, Karen et al. (2017) Using technology to enhance and expand interventions for couples and families: Conceptual and methodological considerations. J Fam Psychol 31:983-993
Christensen, Andrew; Doss, Brian D (2017) Integrative Behavioral Couple Therapy. Curr Opin Psychol 13:111-114
Doss, Brian D; Cicila, Larisa N; Georgia, Emily J et al. (2016) A randomized controlled trial of the web-based OurRelationship program: Effects on relationship and individual functioning. J Consult Clin Psychol 84:285-96
Cicila, Larisa N; Georgia, Emily J; Doss, Brian D (2014) Incorporating Internet-based Interventions into Couple Therapy: Available Resources and Recommended Uses. Aust N Z J Fam Ther 35:414-430
Mowle, Elyse N; Georgia, Emily J; Doss, Brian D et al. (2014) Application of Regulatory Focus Theory to Search Advertising. J Consum Mark 31:494-502
Georgia, Emily J; Doss, Brian D (2013) Web-Based Couple Interventions: Do They Have a Future? J Couple Relatsh Ther 12:168-185
Doss, Brian D; Benson, Lisa A; Georgia, Emily J et al. (2013) Translation of Integrative Behavioral Couple Therapy to a web-based intervention. Fam Process 52:139-53