Piloting Relationship Education for Female Same-Sex Couples: Results of a Small Randomized Waitlist-Control Trial

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Abstract

Relationship education represents a promising, nonstigmatizing approach to promoting the health and stability of same-sex couples. A new culturally sensitive adaptation of relationship education was developed specifically for female same-sex couples (The Strengthening Same-Sex Relationships Program, Female version; SSSR-F). SSSR-F includes adaptations of evidence-based strategies to build core relationship skills (e.g., communication skills training) as well as new content to address unique challenges faced by this population (e.g., discrimination; low social support). A small randomized waitlist-control trial (N = 37 couples) was conducted to evaluate program feasibility, acceptability, and efficacy. Three proximal outcomes targeted by SSSR-F (communication, perceived stress, social support) and 3 distal outcomes (global relationship satisfaction, instability, and confidence) were assessed at pre- and posttreatment and 3-month follow-up. Results of multilevel models accounting for nonindependence in dyadic data indicated statistically significant program effects on positive and negative couple communication, relationship satisfaction, and relationship confidence and small, nonsignificant program effects on stress, social support, and relationship instability. Analyses of follow-up data suggest maintenance of effects on the proximal but not the distal outcomes. Ratings of program satisfaction were high. Overall, findings support the feasibility, acceptability, and initial efficacy of SSSR-F, highlighting the potential value of culturally sensitive relationship education for same-sex couples. Continued efforts are needed to increase sustainability of program effects on global relationship quality over time.

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