Couple Relationship Education: A Randomized Controlled Trial of Professional Contact and Self-Directed Tools

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Abstract

The aim of this randomized controlled trial was to examine the efficacy of an evidence-based relationship distress prevention program, the Couples Coping Enhancement Training (CCET), in dual well-earning couples and to investigate whether effects vary by (a) hours of professional contact and (b) mode of delivery (face to face vs. self-learning DVD). N = 159 couples were randomly assigned to 1 of 4 intervention conditions: (1) standard CCET (15 hours face to face), (2) compact CCET (12 hr face to face), (3) short CCET (self-learning DVD + 8 hr face to face), or (4) wait-list control group. Relationship satisfaction and dyadic coping skills were assessed by means of questionnaires completed prior to and 2 weeks after completion of the treatment, at 3-month follow-up, and at 6-month follow-up. Baseline latent change models for 2 factors showed that the CCET enhanced relationship satisfaction and dyadic coping skills in couples relative to the wait-list control group, albeit effects were small. The standard format of the CCET was not more effective than the compact or the short format indicating that reduced amount of professional contact did not decrease the treatment’s efficacy and that the self-learning DVD successfully replaced the psycho-educational part of the program. Since dual earner couples usually face multiple stressors, it is a promising finding that they can strengthen their relationship with a relatively short time investment.

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