Consistent with NICHD's mission to support research on relationship dynamics, divorce, and interventions to promote strong and healthy families, we seek a continuation of a community level, controlled, longitudinal and randomized dissemination trial of the effectiveness of an empirically-based relationship education program for Army couples delivered by Army chaplains. The intervention is an adaptation of the Prevention and Relationship Enhancement Program (PREP) for Army couples, designed to target risk and protective factors for marital distress which are associated with problems in individual and family functioning. Our current funding period allows us to assess the effects of the intervention for up to 3.5 years post intervention in a sample of 662 couples (343 PREP, 319 control). We seek a continuation of this project in order to test impacts and marital processes over a longer time frame (up to 8.5 years post intervention). The longer time frame is important for the prospective evaluation of intervention effects for relationship quality and individual adjustment over time, and gain greater power to detect intervention effects for outcomes that accrue over time, such as divorce and infidelity.
Our specific aims for the renewal are: 1. To assess the long-term effects of an empirically-based relationship education program on relationship quality, relationship stability, and individual mental health. 2. Assess the long-term effects of relationship education on outcomes of specific relevance to the military context, including PTSD symptoms and infidelity. 3. To build knowledge to inform and revise future prevention efforts. We plan to achieve these aims using survey assessments with our existing sample over an additional five year period, building on a strong initial phase which addresses many key limitations in the literature on relationship education. The sample is large, relatively diverse, and comprised of married couples (many with children) rather than premarital couples (the focus of most prior research). The proposed study will be the strongest of its kind. Our measurement evaluates a wide range of important, understudied, relationship constructs. The stressors experienced by this sample related to factors such as deployment should provide more variance on key outcomes than typically seen in relationship education studies. The proposed renewal is significant in the ways that it can advance scientific knowledge on the long-term effects of relationship education and processes of marriage and divorce over time, with the potential to inform interventions for preventing or treating relationship distress.

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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Carter, Sarah P; Osborne, Laura J; Renshaw, Keith D et al. (2018) Something to talk about: Topics of conversation between romantic partners during military deployments. J Fam Psychol 32:22-30
Allen, Elizabeth; Knopp, Kayla; Rhoades, Galena et al. (2018) Between- and within-subject associations of PTSD symptom clusters and marital functioning in military couples. J Fam Psychol 32:134-144
Knopp, Kayla; Rhoades, Galena K; Allen, Elizabeth S et al. (2017) Within- and Between-Family Associations of Marital Functioning and Child Well-being. J Marriage Fam 79:451-461
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Carter, S P; Loew, B; Allen, E S et al. (2015) Distraction during Deployment: Marital Relationship Associations with Spillover for Deployed Army Soldiers. Mil Psychol 2:108-114
Loew, Benjamin; Carter, Sarah; Allen, Elizabeth et al. (2014) Military Beliefs and PTSD in Active Duty U.S. Army Soldiers. Traumatology (Tallahass Fla) 20:150-153
Bergmann, Jeffrey S; Renshaw, Keith D; Allen, Elizabeth S et al. (2014) Meaningfulness of service and marital satisfaction in Army couples. J Fam Psychol 28:701-6
Stanley, Scott M; Rhoades, Galena K; Loew, Benjamin A et al. (2014) A Randomized Controlled Trial of Relationship Education in the U.S. Army: 2-Year Outcomes. Fam Relat 63:484-495

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