An Uncontrolled Trial of Flexibly Delivered Relationship Education With Low-Income, Unmarried Perinatal Couples

Richard E. Heyman, Katherine J.W. Baucom, Amy M.Smith Slep, Danielle M. Mitnick, W. Kim Halford

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Objective: To examine couple and parenting outcomes from an American version of Couple CARE for Parents (CCP) in low-income, unmarried couples. Background: We adapted an evidence-based, flexibly delivered program for use with low-income, unmarried couples, for whom the outcome literature is scarce. Method: Couples (N = 443) were recruited from maternity units and began CCP. They completed measures before, during, and immediately after the intervention and again 6 months later. Results: Experience of moderate psychological intimate partner violence (IPV) declined and perceived parenting efficacy increased over time; there was no change in severe psychological or physical IPV. Individuals with lower levels of relationship commitment than their partners showed improvement in relationship satisfaction, whereas those with similar or higher levels of commitment maintained their baseline levels despite being in a period of expected satisfaction decline. Conclusion: CCP showed some signs of helping low-income couples during a stressful period, and its flexible service delivery model allowed these couples to participate by reducing the impediments of transportation challenges, conflicting work schedules, and overall time poverty. Implications: The results of this study suggest practitioners interested in using CCP with low-income couples would likely maximize the impact by (a) focusing on pregnant, first-time parents; (b) integrating CCP within postnatal health care; and (c) assuming that a considerable minority of couples will avail themselves of only up to two sessions, and thus practitioners should frontload content, making other content optional or just-in-time. In addition, nonpsychoeducational elements (e.g., gamification, easy computerized tasks to reduce angry responses, watching couple-themed movies) could enliven preventative offerings for perinatal couples.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalFamily Relations
DOIs
StateAccepted/In press - 2020

Keywords

  • couple relationship
  • intimate partner violence
  • parenting
  • prevention
  • socioeconomic status

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)

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