Table of Contents

Acronyms and Abbreviations
Program Design, Delivery, and Implementation
Special Populations
Adolescents/Young Adults
Appendix A: Standards for research rigor for works not published in peer-reviewed journals

Acronyms and Abbreviations

ACF – Administration for Children and Families 
DHHS – Department of Health and Human Services
OFA – Office of Family Assistance
HHMI – Hispanic Healthy Marriage Initiative
HM – Healthy Marriage
MRE – Marriage and Relationship Education
RE – Relationship Education
TANF – Temporary Assistance for Needy Families


Asian American FamilyComparison Group: A group of individuals with similar demographic characteristics to the program group.  The comparison group does not receive the program.  The comparison group is used to measure the extent to which participant changes would have occurred without the program.  However, unlike a control group, a comparison group is created by choosing, and not randomly selecting, participants. 

Marriage and Relationship Education: Programs that aim to teach interested couples and individuals in a group format the knowledge, attitudes, and relationship skills that research has shown to be associated with healthy, stable relationships and marriage.

Randomized Control Trial: Individuals are randomly assigned to the program or to a control group that does not receive the program. Generally, random assignment assures that the program and control groups are identical in every way prior to engaging the program group in the intervention. Thus, the only difference between the two groups is the program group’s exposure to the intervention. If there are statistically significant differences in outcomes between the program and control groups, then it can be concluded with confidence that the intervention caused (or did not cause) the observed differences between the groups.

Single-Group Pretest/Posttest Design: An evaluation that surveys program participants before and after the program to measure any changes in knowledge, attitudes, and behavior. This design type uses no control or comparison group; therefore, changes cannot be attributed to the program.

Statistical Significance: Findings that are unlikely to have occurred by chance.  Program changes need to be statistically significant to be reported as actual changes.


In 2006, as part of the law that reauthorized the Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) program, the Administration for Children and Families, Office of Family Assistance of the Department of Health and Human Services launched the Healthy Marriage Initiative (HMI), which provided five-year funding to 125 grantees in diverse communities, including low-income communities, across the country.  The federal Healthy Marriage Initiative was designed to equip couples and individuals interested in long-term relationships and marriage with tools to foster healthy relationships, with the ultimate goal of promoting child well-being.

Given the number of healthy marriage grantees funded by OFA and the diversity of people they serve, these programs have much to contribute to the existing field. To date, however, there is not a wide body of research that has been written and/or published on their experiences, and what is available has not been placed into one compendium.  The aim of this Collection by Topic is to feature research and publications produced by OFA-funded healthy marriage grantees on their activities and experiences.  While individual program studies are not as rigorous as large-scale randomized control trial evaluations, this information can make an important contribution to the field about what has been learned.

This Collection includes both published and unpublished manuscripts, posters, presentations, reports, and briefs.  Those works not published in peer-reviewed journals have met our standards for research rigor (see Criteria for Unpublished Works ). Many grantees have analyzed program outcomes for couples and families, while others have examined issues pertinent to program design and delivery.  This document is categorized by the focus of evaluation (e.g., features of program design and delivery) as well as by outcomes for specific populations including married and unmarried couples and individuals; stepfamilies; adolescents and young adults; and minorities.

Many of the resources in this Collection should be useful to practitioners helping low-income couples. Whenever possible, we have selected items and resources available for review online. This is not intended to be a comprehensive collection, but it is a selection of relevant documents and materials that have informed the field and that are, for the most part, easily accessible.  Additional publications and resources will be posted periodically as they come to our attention.

The NHMRC would like to thank Cara Kundrat, PhD, Dana Foney, PhD, Jane Koppleman, MPA, Stacey Bouchet, PhD, and Jordan Kahn of the Resource Center for their contributions to the development of this Collection by Topic. This is a product of the NHMRC, led by co-directors Mary Myrick, APR, and Jeanette Hercik, PhD, and project manager Rich Batten, ThM, MEd, CFLE.



In 2011, the National Healthy Marriage Resource Center published the first analysis of combined data from OFA-funded HMI programs.  Researchers Alan Hawkins and Kayleen Fellows from Brigham Young University invited all OFA-funded HMI grantees to submit program data.  Data from 32 grantees and more than 52,000 participants contributed to the study’s findings. Most programs employed a single-group pretest/posttest design while others used a comparison or control group to compare outcomes of program participants with those who did not receive the intervention.  A small number of studies provided reliable follow-up data. 

Hawkins, A.J., Fellow, K.J. (2011) Findings from the Field: A Meta-Analytic Study of the Effectiveness of Healthy Marriage and Relationship Grantee Programs in the Office of Family Assistance.  Paper published by the National Healthy Marriage Resource Center and funded by the Office of Family Assistance, DHHS.

The Meta-Analysis finds that about 66% of program participants at posttest scored above the average of the pretest.  There were statistically significant, generally moderate effects for each target population served as well as for all outcomes assessed.  There were no significant differences in effects between men and women.  Programs providing between nine to twenty hours of instruction had somewhat higher effects than those offering eight hours. Programs with larger proportions of participants who lacked a high school education had stronger positive effects.

Program Design, Development, Implementation


The following grantee works describe the design, development, and implementation of HM programs. Many of these works point to the importance of facilitators and their influence on program outcomes.

Auburn - AL CHMI - Facilitator Poster.jpgBradford, A., Adler-Baeder, F., Lucier-Greer, M., Ketring, S., & Smith, T. (2009). The Role of Participant-Facilitator Demographic Match in Couple and Relationship Education.

Poster presented at the annual meeting of the National Council on Family Relations, San Francisco, CA.

Outcomes based on facilitator characteristics and abilities, as well as similarities between facilitators and class participants, are examined in this poster of one OFA-funded program.  Findings of a single-group pretest/posttest design revealed that participants who were the same gender as the facilitator were more likely to give the facilitator high ratings. Higher facilitator quality was related to improved individual and couple functioning; participants with the same level of education as the facilitator were more likely to experience improvements in individual functioning from pretest to posttest.  

Feistman, R., McCaulley, G., Coleman, M., & Ganong, L. (2010). Applying Inclusive Contextual Programming: Adult Relationship Education. Paper presented at the annual meeting of the National Council on Family Relations, Minneapolis, MN.

The Inclusive Contextual Programming (ICP) framework is applied to the Connecting for Baby (CFB) program (an OFA-funded Healthy Marriage program). ICP stresses that collaboration between participants, evaluators, and program staff is essential for programs to be most effective. Among CFB participants, ongoing participant feedback drove program revisions which demonstrated improvements in recruitment and enrollment as well as participant satisfaction and outcomes. CFB participants reported that the program was beneficial and that the open discussions led by facilitators were key to retaining program information.

Higginbotham, B. J. & Myler, C. (2010). The Influence of Facilitator and Facilitation Characteristics on Participants' Ratings of Stepfamily Education. Family Relations, 59: 74–86.

This study examines the importance of the facilitator on participant ratings of an OFA-funded HM program called Smart Steps (a research-based curriculum focused on remarriage and stepfamilies, administered in two, six-hour sessions). This descriptive research study found that quality facilitation was more meaningful to male and female participants than whether facilitators had comparable demographic characteristics or life experiences. A key facilitation skill for both men and women was the use of personal experiences.

COPES Poster.jpgLarsen-Rife, D. & Early, D. (2011). What Really Works for Marriage Education? Poster presented at the annual OFA meeting for Healthy Marriage/Responsible Fatherhood grantees, Washington, D.C.

The OFA-funded California Healthy Marriages Coalition performs a statewide, cross-site evaluation to understand the types of marriage education programs that work best for different types of couples. Overall, using a single-group pretest/posttest design, participants (54% female) improved significantly on family problem-solving and communication skills but did not improve on the marital satisfaction scale. Results did not vary significantly by ethnic group; women improved more than men on all measures from pretest to posttest.

Shirer, K., Adler-Baeder, F., Contreras, D. & Spicer, J. (2004). Preparing Unmarried New Parents to Make Healthy Decisions about Marriage, Father Involvement and Family Formation. Poster presented at the annual meeting for National Council on Family Relations, Vancouver, British Columbia.

Longitudinal findings from the OFA-funded Fragile Family Research Project and suggested approaches for strengthening fragile families such as incorporating job training and placement into relationship education and healthy marriage programs are presented in this poster. Also described is the development and piloting of the Caring for My Family program—created for unmarried new parents to promote family formation and father involvement. The authors present lessons learned for implementing premarital education with fragile families, such as offering flexibility in how services are delivered and using incentives to promote class participation.

Office of Family Assistance (OFA). (2011). The impact of healthy marriage programs on low-income couples and families: Program perspectives from across the United States. Department of Health and Human Services. Administration for Children and Families.

Examines the unique challenges of unmarried couples who are expecting a baby or co-parenting a newborn and the effectiveness of healthy marriage programs for fragile families. This monograph highlights lessons learned and accomplishments from 21 OFA Priority Areas 6 and 7 Healthy Marriage Grantees serving low-income expectant couples. Program designs, service delivery strategies, and outcomes from these various programs are explored.


Special Populations



The following works describe HM programs for couples who are married or engaged. The programs serve diverse populations, including couples that are Hispanic and African American; those with a spouse recently released from prison; and couples who are expecting a child. All assessments show increases in relationship satisfaction and improved relationship skills for participants.

Boone, A. & Strader, T. (2011). Getting Results by Engaging and Sustaining High-Risk Couples.  Poster presented at the annual OFA meeting for Healthy Marriage/Responsible Fatherhood grantees, Washington, D.C.

The Council on Prevention and Education: Substances, Inc. (COPES), funded by OFA, serves married couples who have experienced previous incarceration and/or have participated in substance abuse treatment or recovery efforts. This poster presents data from an evaluation using a single-group pretest/posttest design (with follow-up) which demonstrates improvements in couples’ relationships and positive feedback from participants.

Morehouse College Poster.jpgClayton, O., Green, R., Johnson, U., Patton, T. & Smith, P. (2011).  Relationship Skills Training: Working With At-Risk Populations. Poster presented at the annual OFA meeting for Healthy Marriage/Responsible Fatherhood grantees, Washington, D.C.

Using a single-group pretest/posttest design (with follow-up), this poster examines the capacity of an OFA-funded healthy relationship education program delivering services in community-based program settings to underserved communities. Populations served include homeless people, those with substance abuse problems, and people from rural agricultural areas. Results demonstrated positive post-program gains in affective affirmation, communication, sharing of household responsibilities, and conflict resolution.

Frame, L.E. & Litzinger, S.C. (2011). Changes in Relationship Satisfaction and Psychological Distress during the Course of a Marriage Education Program. Poster presented at the annual OFA meeting for Healthy Marriage/Responsible Fatherhood grantees, Washington, D.C.

This poster of an OFA-funded marriage education program features case study data of three married, low-income, Hispanic couples with at least one child under age 18. Using a single-group pretest/posttest design, questionnaires were administered at several points during the 11-week, 22-hour program. Couples demonstrated high levels of psychological and relationship distress at intake, but most reported significant increases in relationship satisfaction and decreases in psychological distress over the course of their participation, though some husbands and wives still demonstrated above average levels of psychological distress.

Koch, K., Rezzarday, L., Roeber, J. & Tompkins, S. A. (2011). Relationship Enrichment for Couples Living With Multiple Sclerosis: Implications for Populations Affected by Chronic Illness. Poster presented at the annual OFA meeting for Healthy Marriage/Responsible Fatherhood grantees, Washington, D.C.

The OFA-funded Relationship Matters (RM) program provides a series of teleclasses or in-person workshops to couples where at least one partner has multiple sclerosis. In an outcomes evaluation using a comparison group, three months after the program, the comparison group reported a decline in relationship satisfaction over time.  However, the RM participants showed significant increases in relationship satisfaction and improvements on factors related to mental health.

Pacific Institute for Research & Evaluation and McGuire & Associates. (2011). Jefferson County Healthy Marriage Initiative—Final Evaluation Report.

This evaluation report of the OFA-funded COPES HM program in Kentucky examines the effects of a voluntary relationship education program for recently released male prisoners and their wives. The study includes 288 program participants and a comparison group of 113. Data collected before and after the program, including a 3-month and 6-month follow-up, found that participants of Creating Lasting Family Connections improved their relationship skills whereas non participants’ skills remained the same.

VOW PosterWaite, T., White, K.A., & Tobin, T.J. (2011). From Start to Finish: Workshop, One-on-One, and Youth Relationship Data. Poster presented at the annual OFA meeting for Healthy Marriage/Responsible Fatherhood grantees, Washington, D.C.

Results from multiple components of the OFA-funded VOW Healthy Marriage program are presented in this poster.  At the six-month follow-up of a single-group pretest/posttest design, the majority of workshop couples reported improvements in the following areas: relationship problem-solving skills, communication about money, financial circumstances, relationship quality with their children, and overall relationship quality. High risk couples who received one-on-one instruction reported higher levels of relationship satisfaction and ability to resolve conflicts. The Soul Mate program for teens and young adults resulted in improvements in budgeting, communication, conflict resolution, marriage expectations, and in detecting the warning signs of an unhealthy relationship.



Unmarried couples have unique relationship challenges that can be addressed through MRE programs. In the works below, many of the unmarried participants have, or are expecting, a child together. The research in this section describes how changes in couple behaviors are linked to changes in parenting behaviors.  It also finds that although MRE may not convince couples that marriage is better than cohabitation, their attitudes towards commitment, as well as their communication skills, can improve through MRE.

SGA Youth  Family Services Family Tree Poster.jpgBergen, C. & France, T. (2011). An Urban Couple's Education Program: What We've Learned Along the Way. Poster presented at the annual OFA meeting for Healthy Marriage/Responsible Fatherhood grantees, Washington, D.C.

The OFA-funded Family Tree Program of SGA Youth and Family Services provides relationship education to unwed couples who are pregnant or parenting a child 3-months-old or younger at the start of the program. Single-group pretest/posttest assessments revealed positive changes in participants’ communication and conflict resolution skills, their attitudes toward marriage, and their relationship with the co-parent. The poster provides a description of what the agency has learned about operating an effective program in an urban setting.

Calligas, A., AdlerBaeder, F., Keiley, M., Smith, T. & Ketring, S. (2010). Examining Change in Parenting Dimensions in Relation to Change in Couple Dimensions. Poster presented at the annual conference for National Council on Family Relations Annual Conference. Minneapolis, MN.

The study examines the extent to which parenting behaviors change with respect to couple functioning after participating in an OFA-funded MRE program. Using a single-group pretest/posttest design, findings revealed that improvements in couple interactions were the strongest predictor of improvements in parenting behavior. Decreases in negative couple behaviors were also the strongest predictor of a decrease in co‐parenting conflict. For fathers, reductions in negative couple interactions were associated with increases in co-parenting conflict, although mothers experienced the opposite effect. For Whites, reductions in negative couple behavior were related to increases in parent involvement, but for African Americans, there was no such relationship.

Ganong, L., Coleman, M., & Feistman, R. (2011). Connecting for Baby Short-term Evaluation [Monograph]. The Impact of Healthy Marriage Programs on Low-Income Couples and Families: Program perspectives across the United States. pp. 34–40.

Connecting for Baby (CFB) is an OFA-funded relationship education program for unmarried, low-income expectant or new-parent couples. Pre and post-program analyses found that in the short term, CFB was related to improvements in couples’ commitment levels and communication intimacy. Analyses also found that CFB had little relation to couples’ views that marriage is better than cohabitation, their conflict resolution behaviors, or perceived relationship quality.

Frame-Works Poster.jpgGibbs, A. & Wimmer, J. (2011). FRAME-Works, Georgia: An Answer to High-Risk Expectant and New Parents. Poster presented at the annual OFA meeting for Healthy Marriage/Responsible Fatherhood grantees, Washington, D.C.

Analysis of single-group pretest/posttest data from the OFA-funded FRAME (Family Relationships Anchored in Marriage Education)-Works program in Georgia showed improved marital adjustment, communication, conflict resolution, abuse prevention, and money management skills among men and women participants.  The program serves low-income, unmarried couples, 18 years or older, who are expecting a baby or have a newborn together.

Miller, D. B., Boas, M. P., Vasquez, L., & Tobin, C. (2011). Retrospective Evaluation: 

A new twist on assessing program effectiveness. Poster presented at the annual OFA meeting for Healthy Marriage/Responsible Fatherhood grantees, Washington, D.C.

This poster highlights the evaluation findings of Strong Start, an OFA-funded MRE program delivered to unmarried expectant and parenting couples in Ohio. Using a posttest design where participants were asked to rate how they benefitted from the program, results found positive changes in communication, interpersonal interaction, and parenting knowledge and behaviors.

Richmond, M., Visvanathan, P., Strong, G. & Koenck, C. H.  (2011). Impact of the Within My Reach Program on Individual and Relational Outcomes for Singles and Individuals in Relationships. Poster presented at the annual OFA meeting for Healthy Marriage/Responsible Fatherhood grantees, Washington, D.C.

Peer Assistance Services, Inc. implemented three curricula as a part of its OFA-funded MRE program and analyzed results from the WITHIN MY REACH® curriculum in the evaluation described in this poster. Using a single-group pretest/posttest design (with follow-up), results indicated that participants reported significant improvements in mental health and relationship skills. Results for conflict management skills were mixed. Single participants increased beliefs that they would have the skills necessary to attain a healthy relationship. Coupled participants reported significant increases in confidence in their relationships, but not in changes in commitment level. Results did not differ for men and women. For those in relationships, results did not differ by the length of the relationship.



The following articles discuss HM programs aimed at couples who are remarried—as well as stepfamilies. Stepfamilies are created through many different circumstances. They can result from the remarriage of one or both parent or through a first marriage with children from a non-marital relationship. The data in these works come from predominantly White and Latino couples and their children and suggest that stepfamilies enrolled in tailored MRE programs reported improvements in their level of commitment and areas of couple conflict such as finances and parenting. Couples also gained skills in how to deal with their former partners and reported positive changes in their family relationships—between spouses, biological children, and stepchildren.

Higginbotham, B. J., Miller, J. J., & Niehuis, S. (2009). Remarriage Preparation: Usage, Perceived Helpfulness, and Dyadic Adjustment. Family Relations, 58: 316–329.

This longitudinal study examines the use and impact of various forms of remarriage preparation approaches on couple’s adjustment in a remarriage. More than 300 predominantly White, middle-aged couples reported that talking with other people (e.g., religious leaders, other couples, parents) was the most popular form of marital preparation. Women who used written preparation materials (books, pamphlets, magazines, news articles, etc.) reported lower marital satisfaction but higher marital cohesion in the short term than women who did not. Men who attended a workshop or lecture had higher marital consensus scores in the short term than men who did not. Data from 125 remarried couples who completed a follow-up survey indicated that no specific preparation activity predicted couple adjustment two years after program completion.

Higginbotham, B.; Skogrand, L.; Torres, E. (2010). Stepfamily Education: Perceived Benefits for Children. Journal of Divorce & Remarriage, 51(1): 36–49.

This descriptive study assesses how children benefit from participating in an OFA-funded multisite stepfamily program—called Smart Steps—from the perspectives of parents and facilitators. Based on interviews with 40 parents and 20 facilitators, three main themes emerged from the interviews: 1) children indirectly benefited from their parents’ increased empathy, engagement in family time, and enhanced relationship skills; 2) children also directly benefited from learning skills related to empathy, anger management, and expressing their feelings; and 3) children benefited from social support from peers and facilitators.

Higginbotham, B. J. and Skogrand, L. (2010). Relationship Education with Both Married and Unmarried Step Couples: An Exploratory Study. Journal of Couple & Relationship Therapy, 9 (2): 133–148.

Using a single-group pretest/posttest design, data from 356 White and Hispanic/Latino participants of the OFAfunded Smart Steps program suggests that the program improved level of commitment, agreement on finances, how to deal with former partners, and parenting.  Participants were in a married or unmarried committed relationship and had children from a previous relationship.

Skogrand, L., Dansie, L., Higginbotham, B. J., Davis, P., & Barrios-Bella, A. (2011). Benefits of Stepfamily Education: One-Year Post-Program. Marriage & Family Review, 47(3): 149–163.

Forty predominately low-income, Latino and non-Hispanic White participants were interviewed one year after the start of the OFA-funded Smart Steps program.  Participants described improvements in their relationships with their biological children, their stepchildren, their spouses, and their former partners.

Utah State University Poster.jpgVaterlaus, M., Allgood, S. M., Higginbotham, B. J., & Morrill, P. (2011). Perceived Effectiveness of Booster Sessions Following a Stepfamily Education Course. Poster presented at the annual OFA meeting for Healthy Marriage/Responsible Fatherhood grantees, Washington, D.C.

After completing the OFA-funded Smart Steps program, participants were encouraged to attend a booster session that occurred four to six weeks after the completion of the course.  A posttest design was used to assess participants’ perceptions of knowledge changes in relationship skills before and after the booster session. This poster describes findings that suggest that booster sessions can serve as a means of maintaining and increasing educational gains after the conclusion of the course material.

Adolescents/Young Adults


Providing relationship education (RE) courses to adolescents and emerging adults creates the foundation for the skills needed for healthy, committed marriages and relationships later in life. As Fincham and colleagues suggest, the earlier RE is provided, the greater the likelihood of positive behavior change. These studies find that young adults show improvements in mental health, relationship quality, attitudes, and decision-making skills after completing an RE program.

Braithwaite, S., & Fincham, F.D. (2007). ePREP: Computer based prevention of relationship dysfunction, depression and anxiety. Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology, 26: 609–622.

Ninety-one college students participated in a random assignment study to test the impact of an OFA-funded computer-based relationship intervention (ePREP) for marital/premarital couples. When compared with a control group, participants in ePREP had significant increases in relationship quality and decreases in depression and anxiety. 

Braithwaite, S., & Fincham, F.D. (2009).  A randomized clinical trial of a computer based preventive intervention: Replication and extension of ePREP. Journal of Family Psychology, 23: 32–38.

This random assignment replication study of 77 college students evaluates the efficacy of an OFA-funded computer-based relationship intervention (ePREP). Ten months after completing the program, participants experienced improved mental health and relationship quality.

Braithwaite, S., Lambert, N., Fincham, F.D. & Pasley, K. (2010). Does college-based relationship education decrease extradyadic involvement in relationships? Journal of Family Psychology, 24: 740–745.

The effect of the OFA-funded Relationship U (RU) program on 380 college students in committed romantic relationships is examined. Using a control group design, analysis showed that program participants reduced sexual or romantic behavior outside of the current relationship when compared with control group participants.

Fincham, F.D., Stanley, S.M., & Rhoades, G. (2011). Relationship education in emerging adulthood: Problems and prospects. In F.D. Fincham & M. Cui (Eds.) Romantic Relationships in Emerging Adulthood (pp. 293–316). Cambridge University Press.

A book chapter examines the past, present, and future benefits and challenges of relationship education and indicates that providing such education early in relationship development provides a greater chance of modifying behavior.  The chapter also discusses that while relationship education is especially important to emerging adults, it remains challenging to provide. 

Grimm, A. (2011). Go for the Gold: Relationship Education Program Evaluation. (Unpublished master’s thesis). University of Dayton. Dayton, OH.

This single-group pretest/posttest study analyzes matched surveys of nearly 6,000 high school students living in Ohio who took the OFA-funded Go for the Gold relationship education program. Findings showed that at the end of the program both male and female participants held more positive attitudes regarding marriage and sharpened their awareness of risky and abusive situations as well as their understanding of how to resolve conflicts and adopt responsible financial habits.

Auburn - JCRT Paper Poster.jpgKerpelman, J.L., Pittman, J.F., Adler-Baeder, F., Stringer, K.J., Eryigit, S., Saint-Eloi Cadely, H., & Harrell-Levy, M.K. (2011). What Adolescents Bring to and Learn from Relationship Education Classes: Does Social Address Matter? Poster presented at the annual OFA meeting for Healthy Marriage/Responsible Fatherhood grantees, Washington, D.C.

Researchers examine the effectiveness of a youth-focused OFA-funded relationship education program (Relationship Smarts Plus) for 1,430 teens attending health classes in public high schools. Results of the control-group design indicated that the intervention group—but not the control group—improved in conflict management skills and in having realistic relationship expectations. Improvements in realistic relationship expectations occurred independent of socioeconomic status, but gains in conflict management skills appeared only for participants who were of lower socioeconomic status or who were minorities. Teens living in single-parent homes appeared to benefit least from the program.

Olmstead, S.B., Pasley, K., Meyer, A.S., Stanford, P.S., Fincham, F.D. & Delevi, R. (2011). Implementing relationship education for emerging adult college students: Insights from the field. Journal of Couple and Relationship Therapy, 10: 1–14.

The article describes an OFA-funded relationship education intervention for young adults attending college. Using a single-group pretest/posttest design, with follow-up, participants (76 percent female) rated the content, design, and structure of the sessions, as well as the facilitator, positively. Participants also reported that they found the use of videos to teach concepts and skills most helpful and suggested decreasing the number of role-play activities to improve the program. 

African American and Hispanic Communities


A number of HM grantees serve minority populations. Research suggests that MRE programs need to tailor their approaches to suit the unique cultural needs of their participants. As the works in this section suggest, programs that are adapting their approaches to meet the needs of their target population are finding positive program outcomes. Participants have shown knowledge acquisition, decreased conflict, increased commitment, improved communication and relationship satisfaction, and better parenting skills. Children whose parents have participated in MRE have also shown improvement in social skills.

Samaritan Counseling Center - Poster.jpgBravo, H. & Pepper, M. L. (2011). An Examination of Prepare Enrich Results Among Relationship Education Participants. Poster presented at the annual OFA meeting for Healthy Marriage/Responsible Fatherhood grantees, Washington, D.C.

Married and unmarried couples completed the Prepare‐Enrich inventory and at least eight hours of an OFA-funded relationship education program.  Seventy percent of participants indicated that they were Hispanic and approximately half of all services were offered in Spanish. Pre- and posttest analysis revealed significant improvements among couples in the areas of communication, conflict resolution, financial management, and overall relationship satisfaction.

Devall, E., Montañez, M., Shields, L., & VanLeeuwen, D. (2009). Effectiveness of Relationship Education with Single, Cohabiting, and Married Parents in New Mexico.  Poster presented at the annual meeting for National Council on Family Relations, San Francisco, CA.

Findings of a 12-week OFA-funded relationship education program for single, cohabiting, and married parents who are primarily Hispanic and living in New Mexico are presented in this poster.  Using a single-group pretest/posttest design, the study found significant improvements in couple relationships, parenting skills, and family functioning, regardless of relationship status.

Hyra, A., Torres, L., & Bouchet, S. (2011). The Hispanic Healthy Marriage Initiative Grantee Implementation Evaluation. Poster presented at the annual OFA meeting for Healthy Marriage/Responsible Fatherhood grantees, Washington, D.C.

Grantees have designed culturally-oriented services as part of the Hispanic Healthy Marriage Initiative which provides assistance to marriage education programs, including OFA-funded healthy marriage grantees, serving primarily Hispanic individuals, couples, and families. Nine OFA-funded healthy marriage programs participated in an evaluation which describes how programs attract diverse Hispanic populations; documents the adaptations that programs have made to better meet the needs of Hispanics; and reports on immediate program outcomes. This poster describes the evaluation's research questions and methods.

Kirkland, C., Adler-Baeder, F., Bradford, A., Lucier-Greer, M., Ketring, S. & Smith, T. (2009). The Effects of Relationship/Marriage Education on Co-parenting and Children’s Social Skills: Examining Rural Minorities’ Experiences. Auburn University Research brief.

This paper examines the effects of an OFA-funded couples’ relationship program on co-parenting quality and children’s social skills. A predominately low-income, African American sample of parents of Head Start children participated in a program where a single-group pretest/posttest design found that parental participation resulted in increases in co-parenting quality at four-month follow-up, but these changes were not sustained at the one-year follow-up.  Children’s social skills, however, improved significantly at one-year follow-up for program participants. In comparison, parents in the control group reported decreases in children’s social skills over time.

Kotrla, K., Dyer, P., & Stelzer, K. (2010). Marriage education with Hispanic couples: Evaluation of a communication workshop. Family Science Review, 15, (2): 1–14.

Based on single-group pretest/posttest data gathered over 2.5 years from 275 Hispanic couples, this study of the effectiveness of the OFA-funded Hispanic Active Relationships Project (HARP) found moderate improvements in all curriculum content areas. The study also found that delivering a shorter workshop series (eight versus nine or more hours) did not affect outcomes.

Colorado State University Poster.jpgTompkins, S.A., Rosa, J., Benavente, J., Mastroantonio, S. & Green, H. (2011). Holistic Relationship Programming with a Diverse Population. Poster presented at the annual OFA meeting for Healthy Marriage/Responsible Fatherhood grantees, Washington, D.C.

Using a single-group pretest/posttest design, the study examines the ability of the OFA-funded Family Success in Adams County (FSAC) program to provide a comprehensive approach to enriching relationships for low-income participants with varying ethnic backgrounds. Study group demographic breakdown was: female (79%); Hispanic/Latino (50%), White (32%); African American/Black (8%). Participants significantly improved over two years on measures of parenting communication, perceived stress related to income and ethnicity, psychological well-being, parenting and relationship confidence, and family functioning.

Criteria for Unpublished Works


Criteria for unpublished works in healthy marriage grantee special collection

1.                  Provides a description of the healthy marriage program (e.g., school- or community-based, program goals, objectives, and activities). Describes the curriculum (if applicable), intended duration of the program and the basis for expecting change. 


2.         Describes the target population or sample (e.g., sex, age/grade, race/ethnicity, how participants were selected into the program). 


3.         Describes the data collection/methodology and the data collection instrument(s)/scales used.


4.         Demonstrates methodological rigor (e.g., matched pretests and posttests, response rate of 50% or higher, uses statistics to assess group differences). Methodology must be appropriate (e.g., an implementation study must include data on how the program was delivered; a comparison group design must compare the groups on demographics, pretests, and outcomes; a single-group design must include at minimum a pretest and posttest). 


5.         Describes program outputs (e.g., number of participants enrolled in the program, number of participants completing the program). 


6.         Appropriately describes or summarizes program findings (e.g., observed program impacts, program successes/achievements, barriers/challenges, adjustments/adaptations, lessons learned). Limitations affecting generalizability should be discussed.