How effective are ACF-funded couple relationship education programs? A meta-analytic study

How effective are ACF-funded couple relationship education programs? A meta-analytic study

Hawkins, A. J. Hokanson, S. Loveridge, E. Milius, E. Duncan, M. Booth, M. Pollard, B.
Family Process
Since 2006, the U.S. Administration for Children and Families (ACF) has allocated $1.2 billion to a Healthy Marriage and Relationship Education (HMRE) policy initiative that provides grants to community organizations to support relationship education (RE) services for lower income couples and individuals. The policy aim was to help disadvantaged couples and individuals form and sustain healthy, stable relationships and marriages. A significant body of research on the effectiveness of these programs has now accumulated. This meta-analytic study reviews all evaluation research reports of adult couple relationship education (CRE) programs supported by the ACF policy initiative to examine their impact on an array of couple, family, and individual well-being outcomes. Overall, our review of 32 control-group studies found a range of small but significant effects for couple relationship quality (d = .114), relationship skills (d = .132), mental health (d = .074), and coparenting (d = .033), but non-significant effects for relationship stability, parenting, and child well-being. Supplemental analyses with 19 1-group/pre-post studies showed larger effects. Planned moderator analyses explored significant heterogeneity in most effects, however, revealing interesting implications for practice and research going forward.

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