Project Documents

Infographic

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Executive Summary

Read an overview of our work during the 2015-2020 project funding cycle.

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Evaluation Report

Read a report on our work during the 2015-2020 project funding cycle.

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Publications of Couple Relationship Education

Adler-Baeder, F. McGill, J., Yildirim, E.D., Gregson, K., Cooper, E.*, Burke, L., Finnegan, V., & Jackel, R. (in press). Simultaneous Randomized Control Trials of the One-Year Efficacy of Two Couple Relationship Education Programs: ELEVATE and Couples Connecting Mindfully. Family Process. Invited.

Abstract:  A long-standing university-community partnership used a longitudinal randomized control trial (RCT) to implement and evaluate two couple relationship education (CRE) curricula, ELEVATE and Couples Connecting Mindfully (CCM), among an economically and racially diverse population of adult couples. Married and nonmarried couples (n = 929 couples) completed baseline surveys and were randomly assigned to either one of the two program groups or to the control group by implementation site. Follow-up surveys were collected at two months, six months, and one year after baseline. Growth curve modeling comparisons of trajectories indicated program effects at one year post-baseline in key outcome areas. Both the ELEVATE and the CCM group reported significant gains in couple relationship skills, couple quality, and family harmony over time compared to the control group that experienced either no change or declines. Further, the ELEVATE group also demonstrated program effects on measures of mental health and sleep quality. A change-on-change assessment of the central premise of CRE indicated that the immediate post-program improvements in couple relationship skills predicted later enhancements in couple quality for both program groups. This study indicates that both ELEVATE and CCM can be considered evidence-based CRE programs for use with a broad population of couples.

Cooper, E., Adler-Baeder, F. and McGill, J. (2021), Individual mental health and couple functioning following couple relationship education participation: exploring prospective cross-lagged influences among changes. Journal of Marital and Family Therapy.  https://doi.org/10.1111/jmft.12493

Abstract: This study conducted tests of processes of change in couple relationship education (CRE) participants’ mental health and couple functioning. Using a diverse sample of men and women we first tested the assumption that individual functioning influences relational functioning. We found support for immediate changes in mental health predicting changes in couple functioning 6 months later. However, a full cross-lagged prospective model comparatively testing the stress generation model and the marital discord model (Depression in marriage: A model for etiology and treatment. Guilford, 1990), which emphasizes relational functioning impacts on individual well-being over time, revealed the stronger directional link for both men and women was from immediate changes in couple functioning to later changes in individual mental health.

McGill, J., Adler-Baeder, F. and Garneau-Rosner, C. (2020). An evaluation of the ELEVATE program for couples: Considering vulnerabilities and relationship length. Family Relations, 70, 327-351. https://doi.org/10.1111/fare.12502

Abstract: This study investigates the effects of a new research-informed couple relationship education (CRE) curriculum. Results indicate sustained program effects of ELEVATE over 6 months in four of nine target outcomes. Participants experiencing more stressful family contexts at baseline experience a greater amount of change in intentionality, developing a couple identity, use of caring behaviors, relationship quality, and depressive symptoms. Participants in more established relationships experienced greater change in conflict management skills and relationship quality. These findings evidence several positive program effects for the ELEVATE program for a broad group of participants and also reveal some distinctions in change patterns for subgroups. This research provides information relevant to the development of best practices for CRE in diverse communities.

Burke, L.K., McGill, J. & Adler-Baeder, F. (2019). Exploring the links between Facets of mindfulness and parenting efficacy and stress. Journal of Child Family Studies, 29, 1679–1691. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10826-019-01692-2

Abstract: The study of mindfulness has expanded in recent decades; however, there is still limited published research on the relationship between mindfulness and parenting. Further, scarce previous research considered individual characteristics as moderators of links between mindfulness and parenting outcomes. Although distinct elements of mindfulness can be measured, most research treats mindfulness as a global construct. The current study draws from family stress and resilience theory to examine the relationship between three facets of mindfulness and parenting stress and efficacy. Further, we consider the influence of parent gender and age of the youngest child on these relationships.

Adler-Baeder, F., Garneau, C., Vaughn, B., McGill, J., Harcourt, K.T., Ketring, S. and Smith, T. (2018), The effects of mother participation in relationship education on coparenting, parenting, and child social competence: Modeling spillover effects for low-income minority preschool children. Family Process, 57,113-130. https://doi.org/10.1111/famp.12267

Abstract:  This study focuses on a parallel process growth model that tests a spillover hypothesis of program effects and finds, in a sample of low-income minority mothers with a child attending a Head Start program, that increases in mother reports of coparenting agreement for relationship and marriage education (RME) participants predict decreases in their reports of punitive parenting behaviors. In addition, comparative tests of outcomes between parents in the program and parents in a comparison group reveal that RME program participants demonstrate significant improvements compared to nonparticipants on coparenting agreement, parenting practices, and teachers’ reports of preschool children’s social competence over a 1-year period.

Savasuk-Luxton, R., Adler-Baeder, F., & Haselschwerdt, M.L. (2018). Understanding change in violence- related attitudes for adolescents in relationship education. Journal of Adolescence, 63, 153-164. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.adolescence.2017.12.012

Abstract: Using a sample of adolescents this study examined pre- and post-test gender role beliefs (GRB) and dating violence acceptance (DVA) scores of relationship education (RE) participants compared to nonparticipants and explored the differential and combined effects of participants’ sociodemographic characteristics on change. Black males held the most traditional GRB at pre-test but became more egalitarian after programming. RE participation also appeared to act as a buffer against an increase in DVA for females, but not males. Study findings provide a complex picture of the role of RE in shifting beliefs and attitudes with ADV among adolescents.

Morrison, S., Adler-Baeder, F., Duke, A., & Bub, K. (2018). Contextualizing relationship education effects on adolescent attitude toward sexual behavior delay: Considering class social climate. Child and Youth Care Forum, 47(1), 133-150.

Abstract: Using data from a statewide relationship education (RE) program targeting a diverse adolescent sample, this study examined RE implementation in classroom environments. The purpose of this study was to explore (1) whether there is a beneficial RE program effect for change in individual attitudes toward sexual delay, (2) whether individual factors—student gender and sexual activity—predict change in attitudes toward sexual delay for students experiencing the intervention, and (3) whether classmate characteristics influence individual change in attitudes toward sexual delay. Overall, this study supports the importance of considering both individual characteristics as well as social context when assessing program experience and effectiveness.

Ketring, S., Bradford, A., Davis, S., Adler-Baeder, F., McGill, J., Smith, T. (2017). The role of the facilitator in couple relationship education. Journal of Marriage and Family Therapy, 43(5). http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/jmft.12223

Abstract: While much of the Couple Relationship Education (CRE) research has focused on participant factors, unexpectedly little research has considered how characteristics of those providing the programming shape its efficacy. The current study draws upon a diverse sample of couples who received CRE from community educators to examine how facilitation alliance is related to relationship outcomes for men and women and whether having a facilitator with similar demographic characteristics is related to the alliance. Results suggest that the facilitation alliance is related to some—though not all—post program outcomes and these effects were uniform across gender and relationship status (married vs. unmarried). Having a facilitator of the same gender was associated with a stronger alliance. Implications are discussed.

Harcourt, K.T., Adler-Baeder, F., Rauer, A., Pettit, G.S. and Erath, S. (2017) Relationship education for incarcerated adults. Family Process, 56, 75-90. https://doi.org/10.1111/famp.12164

Abstract: As relationship education (RE) programs become more widely implemented, it is important to measure and document the changes associated with RE for diverse audiences. The aim of this study was to expand existing literature by examining RE with a broader sample of incarcerated adults, regardless of current relationship status, and to expand our understanding of its association with outcomes beyond the couple domain by also including measures of individual and parental functioning. Using a sample of incarcerated adults, the study found positive change in three domains of functioning (couple, individual, and parental). Overall, we found both similarities and differences among program participants on changes from pre- to posttest. For most outcomes, the positive change from pre- to posttest emerged regardless of individual characteristics.

Bradford, A. B., Drean, L., Adler-Baeder, F., Ketring, S. A. and Smith, T. A. (2017). It’s about time! examining received dosage and program duration as predictors of change among non-distressed and distressed married couple and relationship education participants. Journal of Marital and Family Therapy, 43, 391– 409. https://doi.org/10.1111/jmft.12209

Abstract: Although Couple and Relationship Education (CRE) programs were intended to be preventive in nature, an emerging reality is that relationally distressed couples are attending programs. This has raised questions about both its general usefulness and what is known regarding predictors of change in CRE for distressed couples particularly. This study utilized a sample of community CRE participants and examined received dosage and program duration as predictors of change. Comparing results for distressed and non-distressed participants, findings suggest that it is important to consider distress level and time spent in programs when placing participants.

McGill, J., & Adler-Baeder, F. (2017). The effects of teaching relationship education on family life educators. Journal of Human Sciences and Extension, 5, 82-98. https://www.jhseonline.com/article/view/771

Abstract: Couple Relationship Education (CRE) programs are a prevention resource used to assist adult individuals, couples, and families reduce relationship distress and improve prosocial behaviors. The current study focused on assessing change in ten outcomes measuring Rgional Extension agents (REAs)/ family life educators (FLEs) individual, couple, and co-parenting functioning and whether that change differed by gender. Results indicate REAs/FLEs experience gains across several domains of functioning. There were no differences by gender.

 

Rice, T.*, McGill, J., & Adler-Baeder, F. (2017). Relationship education for youth in high school: Preliminary evidence from a non-controlled study on dating behavior and parent- adolescent relationships. Child and Youth Care Forum, 46, 51-68. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10566-016-9368-8

Abstract: This study examines the influence of RE on both dating and parent–adolescent relationships. We examined the influence of RE participation on a group of ethnically diverse adolescents’ knowledge and use of healthy skills in their parent–adolescent and dating relationships and whether these changes are linked. Results indicate significant and positive influences on participants’ knowledge and use of healthy relationship skills in their parent–adolescent and dating relationships. Further, results indicate that change in the current dating relationship is associated with concurrent change in the parent–adolescent relationship. The results of this study provide preliminary evidence for a spillover effect of relationship education efforts, which are traditionally focused on the youth dating relationships, to parent–adolescent relationship dynamics.

McGill, J., Adler-Baeder, F., Bradford, A.B., Kerpelman, J., Ketring, S.A. and Sollie, D. (2016). The role of relational instability on individual and partner outcomes following couple relationship education participation. Family Relations, 65,407-423. https://doi.org/10.1111/fare.12201https://doi.org/10.1007/s10566-016-9368-8

Abstract: Some scholars have suggested that distressed populations may benefit more from couple and relationship education (CRE) than their nondistressed counterparts. We examined this hypothesis using actor–partner interdependence models to explore the relationship between baseline relational instability and change for individuals and their partners that participated in a CRE program for 6 to 8 weeks. Findings indicated that a higher level of relational instability on the part of women was associated with greater positive change in depressive symptoms. Furthermore, respondents’ and partners’ baseline relational instability moderated the change in women’s couple quality, such that women reported greater positive change in relationship quality when reporting higher instability and higher relationship quality before CRE participation, and when their partners reported higher instability and lower quality before CRE participation. Men appear to benefit from CRE participation regardless of baseline relational instability.

Chan, A., * Adler-Baeder, F., Duke., A., Ketring, S., & Smith, T. (2016). The role of parent-child interaction in community-based youth relationship education. American Journal of Family Therapy, 44, 36-45. https://doi.org/10.1080/01926187.2016.1145079

Abstract: This study sought to answer whether there is an association between parent-adolescent relationship processes and adolescents’ awareness of unhealthy relationships. Results revealed significant improvement in awareness of unhealthy relationships after program participation. Greater supportiveness predicted greater change in the outcome. This suggests that RE programs targeted at youth should specifically inform parents of goals so that they may be reinforced in parents’ interactions with their adolescents.

McElwain, A., Finnegan, V., Whitaker, A., * Kerpelman, J., Adler-Baeder, F., & Duke, A. (2016). Evaluation and lessons learned from an undergraduate service-learning course providing youth-focused relationship education. Evaluation and Program Planning. 58, 116-124. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.evalprogplan.2016.06.002

Abstract: This present article provides a formative and illustrative evaluation of the service-learning program at a large university in a Southeastern state. Undergraduate students enrolled in a service-learning course and partnered with this initiative to implement a relationship education program for high school students. The primary aims of this paper are to provide an overview of the service-learning course components, describe preparation of the service-learning students, discuss challenges and lessons learned, and offer initial evidence of effectiveness by showing change in targeted outcomes for the high school student recipients of the relationship education program.

Garneau, C.L. and Adler-Baeder, F. (2015), Changes in stepparents’ coparenting and parenting following participation in a community-based relationship education program. Family Process, 54, 590-599. https://doi.org/10.1111/famp.12133

Abstract: In this study, we examined changes in coparenting agreement, parenting efficacy, and parental involvement for stepparents following participation in a coparenting-focused community education program. Parenting efficacy improved, regardless of gender, race, residence, or curriculum. Finally, increases in coparenting agreement were associated with increases in parenting efficacy, and increases in parenting efficacy were associated with increases in parental involvement.

Whittaker, A., Garneau, C., & Adler-Baeder, F. (2014). The effects of relationship education on adolescent gender role attitudes and dating violence acceptance. Journal of Human Sciences and Extension 2, 59-69. https://www.jhseonline.com/article/view/735

Abstract: This study examined change in adolescents’ traditional gender role attitudes and dating violence acceptance following completion of a relationship education program. Using data from a larger study, beliefs and attitudes were assessed among a diverse sample of youth. A significant decrease in traditional gender role attitudes was found for both boys and girls following relationship education, with a steeper decline in traditional gender role attitudes for boys than girls over time. Overall, results suggest that adolescents’ attitudes about gender roles and dating violence are open to change when provided relationship education, and changes in these beliefs are linked.

Bradford, A., Erickson, C., Smith, T., Adler-Baeder, F., & Ketring, S. (2014) Adolescents’ intentions to use relationship interventions by demographic group: Before and after a relationship education curriculum. American Journal of Family Therapy, 42, 293-303. https://doi.org/10.1080/01926187.2013.864945

Abstract: This study examined a diverse sample of adolescent’s attitudes towards relationship education programs, specifically Relationship Smarts Plus (RS+). Attitudes differed significantly between demographic groups at Time 1, where females and African Americans held more favorable attitudes. After RS+, attitudes significantly improved, on average, for European American males and African American females.

Ma, Y., * Kerpelman, J., Pittman, J., & Adler-Baeder, (2014). The impact of relationship education and classroom climate on adolescent ideal partner/relationship views. Family Relations, 63, 453-468. https://doi.org/10.1111/fare.12084

Abstract: There is limited research addressing whether relationship education matters for building or modifying relationship standards and how social climate could impact curriculum effects. This study examined the impact of a general youth-focused relationship education curriculum and classroom social climate on one ideal standard for relationship partners, warmth/trustworthiness, and one for romantic relationships, intimacy/loyalty. Findings revealed significant and positive curriculum main effects on both standards, while controlling for classroom context. The model for warmth/trustworthiness also showed classroom effects adding to curriculum effects. The role of classroom factors needs further consideration as curriculum effects are examined.

Kirkland, C.L., * Skuban, E., Adler-Baeder, F., Ketring, S.A., Smith, T., Bradford, A., * & Lucier-Greer, M.* (2011). Early evidence of the effects of parent participation in relationship/marriage education on coparenting and children’s social skills: Examining rural minorities’ experiences. Early Childhood Research & Practice, 13(2).

Abstract: This article provides information on an ongoing novel study of Head Start parents and their children. An initial group of primarily African American, low-income parents participated in a study as either participants in a relationship education program or as participant controls. Relationship education participants completed a 6-week community education program focusing on couple and co-parenting dynamics and relationship quality. Relationship education participants demonstrated better outcomes than the control participants in co-parenting disagreements and reported positive effects on preschool children’s social competence. Participants showed improvement at one-year follow-up, while control parents and their children demonstrate more co-parenting disagreements and decreases in children’s social competence. This promising early finding may lead to enhanced family programming that includes marriage and relationship education as a means of promoting more prosocial behaviors in children.

Bradford, A.B., Adler-Baeder, F., Ketring, S.A., and Smith, T.A. (2010). The role of participant-facilitator demographic match in couple and relationship education. Family Relations, 61, 51-64. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1741-3729.2011.00679.x

Abstract: This study examines the relationship between participant-facilitator demographic match of ethnicity, sex, education, and relationship status on reported facilitator quality and program outcomes, as well as the relationship between facilitator quality and program outcomes. Results indicated that sex match was related to facilitator quality and that facilitator quality was related to program outcomes.

Kerpelman, J., Pittman, J., Adler-Baeder, F., & Stringer, K.* (2010). What adolescents bring to and learn from relationships education classes: Does social address matter? Journal of Relationship and Couple Therapy: Innovations in Clinical and Educational Interventions, 9, 95- 112. https://doi.org/10.1080/15332691003694877

Abstract: The current study examined the effectiveness of a youth-focused relationship education curriculum in a sample of adolescents attending health classes across 39 public high schools. Results indicated that the intervention group, but not the control group, changed in the desired direction in terms of the faulty relationship beliefs and the relationship skills that were the focus of this study. Desired improvements on the faulty relationship beliefs occurred independent of social address, but desired improvements in conflict management skills appeared only for the less socially or economically advantaged groups. Participants living in stepfamilies also significantly improved their perceived skills. Adolescents living in single-parent family structures appeared to benefit least from the program.

Kerpelman, J., Pittman, J., Adler-Baeder, F., Eryigit, S., * & Paulk, A.* (2009). Evaluation of a statewide youth-focused relationships education curriculum. Journal of Adolescence, 32, 1359-1370. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.adolescence.2009.04.006

Abstract: Romantic relationships matter for adolescents. Experiences in romantic relationships facilitate key areas of personal and interpersonal development, however, problems in romantic relationships and lack of positive role models can lead to increased risk of developing unhealthy relationship patterns that can persist into adulthood. The goals of this applied research project were to examine the effectiveness of a youth-focused relationships education curriculum, and to use the knowledge gained to inform practices in relationships education for adolescents. Findings from pre and post-intervention assessments and from two follow-up surveys provide evidence of program success and offer key insights for the development of an effective model of relationships education tailored for adolescents.

Kerpelman, J., Pittman, J., & Adler-Baeder, F. (2008). Identity as a moderator of intervention impact: Identity style and adolescents’ responses to relationships education. Identity 8(2), 151-17. https://doi.org/10.1080/15283480801940073

Abstract: We propose that interventions targeting youth should consider the effects of identity formation on outcomes. In this study, data from high school students addresses the potential moderating effects of identity style on intervention-related change in faulty relationship beliefs, future orientation, perceived interpersonal communication skills, salience of future marital and parental roles, and perception of knowledge gains. Taken together, findings support the idea that identity style is an important influence on intervention outcomes.

Higginbotham, B.* & Adler-Baeder, F. (2008). The Smarts Steps: Embrace the Journey program: Enhancing relational skills and relationship quality in remarriages and stepfamilies. Forum for Family and Consumer Issues, 13(3).

Abstract: Smart Steps: Embrace the Journey is an innovative program that teaches relationship skills for couples and children in stepfamilies. Results from ethnically and economically diverse participants attending Smart Steps classes at eleven different sites suggest that Smart Steps is effective in improving healthy relationship skills, increasing commitment, and decreasing relationship instability.

Other Related Research by Dr. Francesca Adler-Baeder

Dr. Adler-Baeder is a Professor in the Human Sciences and Family Studies Department at Auburn University. Her email address is [email protected].

Adler-Baeder, F., Futris, T., McGill, J., Richardson, E. W., & Dede Yildirim, E. (in press). Validating the Couple Relationship Skills Inventory. Family Relations.

Abstract: We tested the validity of the factor structure and reliability of a new research-informed comprehensive inventory of key relationship skills predictive of couple quality, the Couple Relationship Skills Inventory (CRSI). The CRSI is based on the National Extension Relationship and Marriage Education Model, an evidence-derived framework developed as a guide for couple relationship education content. For internal consistency in assessing the effectiveness of programming for couples and for general use in practice and research with couples, an important next step is the design and validation of a comprehensive measure of these core behavioral/attitudinal skills. This measure provides an efficient assessment of core relational skills critical for healthy couple quality and may prove useful in practice and for future studies of couple relationships and couple relationship education.

Cox, C.C., Adler-Baeder, F., McGill, J., Cooper, E. (2020). The influence of anxiety and mindfulness on relationship quality: An investigation of comparative and dyadic effects. Mindfulness, 11, 1956–1966. https://doi.org/10.1007/s12671-020-01404-8

Abstract: The current study serves to advance understandings of how anxiety and trait mindfulness influence relationship quality over time. Using a varied sample of heterosexual couples, we examined the relative predictability of anxiety and mindfulness on both self- and partner-reports of relationship quality 6 months later. Results indicate that men’s and women’s own level of trait mindfulness at baseline were significantly related to their relationship quality 6 months later. Findings are consistent with family stress theory and suggest that mindfulness may be a family resource promoting successful intimate partnerships, and further that the relational benefits of mindfulness may outweigh the damaging effects of anxiety.

Lucier-Greer, M. Birney, A. Gutierrez, T., & Adler-Baeder, F. (2018) Enhancing relationship skills and couple functioning with mobile technology: An evaluation of the Love Every Day mobile intervention. Journal of Family Social Work, 21(2),152-171. https://doi.org/10.1080/10522158.2017.1410267 /s12671-020-01404-8

Abstract: A research-informed mobile application was created to promote relationship quality, stability, and resilience. Participants engaged with the Love Every Day app for three weeks while completing online evaluations. Findings suggest that the app promoted high levels of engagement, such that most participants viewed the app multiple times a day and submitted answers to daily prompts. Assessments suggest that participants enhanced their relationship skills and behaviors, and reported higher levels of relationship quality after engaging with the app.

Harcourt, K.T.*, Adler-Baeder, F., Erath, S., & Pettit, G. (2015). Examining family structure and half-sibling influence on adolescent well-being. Journal of Family Issues, 36(2). 250-27. https://doi.org/10.1177%2F0192513X13497350

Abstract: This study explored family structure of youth in two-parent families and their influence on coping, sexual activity delay, and substance use. This study emphasized variations in family structure based on sibling relatedness. Results indicate differences when examining “traditional” classifications, as well as classifications based on half-sibling presence, such that those in nuclear families and those without half-siblings are advantaged over other groups. Biological and stepchildren in step-nuclear hybrid families did not significantly differ on any measure. A race by family structure interaction effect was seen for measures of coping. On average, differences were seen for European Americans but not for African Americans.

Kerpelman, J., Pittman, J., & Adler-Baeder, F. (2013) Engagement in risky sexual behavior: Adolescents’ perceptions of self and the parent-child relationship matter. Youth and Society, 48(1), 101-125. https://doi.org/10.1177%2F0044118X13479614

Abstract: The current study examined associations among parenting practices, adolescents’ self-esteem and dating identity exploration, and adolescents’ sexual behaviors. Results indicated that risky sexual behavior was associated positively with parental psychological control, and negatively with self-esteem and dating identity exploration. Parental support positively predicted self-esteem and dating identity exploration; psychological control also showed a positive association with dating identity exploration. Dating identity exploration showed potential to serve as a protective factor for higher risk groups and psychological control appeared particularly detrimental for older adolescents. Finally, youth from stepfamilies showed associations among the variables that differed from youth living in single-parent and two-parent biological/adoptive families.

Pittman, J., Kerpelman, J., Soto, J., * & Adler-Baeder, F. (2012). Identity exploration in the dating domain: The role of attachment dimensions and parenting practices. Journal of Adolescence, 35, 1485-1499. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.adolescence.2012.04.006

Abstract: We examined relations among perceived parenting practices (support and psychological control), attachment dimensions for romantic relationships (anxiety and avoidance) and exploration of the dating identity among a sample of actively dating high school students. Parenting practices contributed to adolescent exploration of the dating identity. Parent psychological control, but not parental support, also contributed to elevated feelings of avoidance and anxiety in romantic relationships. Avoidance was related to less exploration of dating identity while anxiety seemed to increase it. Indirect effects for parenting practices through attachment dimensions on exploration of the dating identity were also noted.

Lucier-Greer, M.* & Adler-Baeder, F. (2012). A meta-analysis of stepfamily education programs. Family Relations, 61, 756-769. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1741-3729.2012.00728.x

Abstract: Recent meta-analytic efforts have documented how couple and relationship education (CRE) programs promote healthy relationship and family functioning. The current meta-analysis contributes to this body of literature by examining stepfamily couples, an at-risk, subpopulation of participants, and assessing the effectiveness of CRE programs for individuals in these relationships. The interventions have, on average, small effects overall and slightly larger effects in family and parental functioning when examining specific outcomes. An examination of effectiveness over time reveals that earlier studies show larger effects than more recent studies.

Schramm, D.G.* & Adler-Baeder, F. (2012). Marital quality for men and women in stepfamilies: Examining the role of economic pressure, common stressors, and stepfamily-specific stressors. Journal of Family Issues, 33, 1373-1397. https://doi.org/10.1177%2F0192513X11428126

Abstract: This study examines the effect of economic pressure on both common stressors and stepfamily-specific stressors and the subsequent effects on negativity, positivity, and marital quality. For women, stepfamily-specific stressors have a direct inverse effect on positivity, negativity, and marital quality. For men, stepfamily-specific stressors were predictive of both positivity and marital quality. Findings from the study advance previous research on economic pressure, family stress, and marital quality.

Kerpelman, J.L., Pittman, J. F., Saint-Eloi Cadely, H., Tuggle, F. J., Harrell-Levy, M. K., & Adler-Baeder, F. M. (2012). Identity and intimacy during adolescence: Connections among identity styles, romantic attachment and identity commitment. Journal of Adolescence, 35(6), 1427-1439. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.adolescence.2012.03.008

Abstract: The currents study addressed direct, indirect, and moderated associations among identity and romantic attachment constructs with a diverse sample of middle school adolescents. Identity styles were found to have unique and direct associations with identity commitment. Attachment anxiety showed only indirect associations and attachment avoidance had both direct and indirect associations with identity commitment. Gender, race and relationship status had no influence on the direct associations of identity styles or romantic attachment with identity commitment. The differences found for relationship status suggested that relationship experiences adolescents bring to their exploration of identity and intimacy matter for how these two areas of development articulate.

Paulk, A., * Pittman, J., Kerpelman, J., & Adler-Baeder, F. (2011). Associations between dimensions of security in romantic relationships and interpersonal competence among dating and non-dating high school adolescents. Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, 28, 1027-1047. https://doi.org/10.1177%2F0265407510397985

The current study investigated the association between dimensions of security in romantic relationships, anxiety and avoidance, and general interpersonal competence among two groups of high school-aged adolescents: one currently in a dating relationship (daters) and one not currently involved (non-daters). A moderate negative association was found between avoidance and interpersonal competence for both daters and non-daters. A small positive association was found for anxiety and competence, but only for non-daters. The differences observed between the groups appeared to reflect the effects of current experience on self-assessed anxiety, avoidance, and interpersonal competence.

Skogrand, L., Reck, K., * Higginbotham, B., * Adler-Baeder, F., & Dansie, L.* (2010). Recruitment and retention for stepfamily education. Journal of Couple and Relationship Therapy: Innovations in Clinical and Educational Interventions, 9, 48-65. https://doi.org/10.1080/15332690903473077

Abstract: This article establishes new and verifies already existing strategies to recruit and retain couples in stepfamilies. We examine recruitment and retention strategies used by 10 different agencies who offer the Smart Steps program to low-income stepfamilies. Qualitative interviews were conducted with 20 facilitators and 40 participants. Many of the identified strategies were consistent with related research regarding the use of incentives, minimizing costs, and removing logistical barriers. Additional strategies and implications were identified including the cultivation of trust, using personal contacts, involving children, and incentivizing youth attendance, tapping into the interests and motivations of potential participants, and advertising common stepfamily problems conjointly with the promise of helpful solutions.

Adler-Baeder, F., & Erickson, M.* (2007). Marriage education for stepcouples. Forum for Family and Consumer Issues, 12(1).

Abstract: A significant proportion of marriages form stepfamilies. It is important for educators to recognize and consider these couples’ educational needs to ensure that they function well as a couple within the context of stepfamily development. From a review of the literature, this article presents prevalent issues and factors associated with healthy couple functioning in stepfamilies for marriage educators and practitioners. Information is offered on such implementation issues as guiding theoretical perspectives, program content, learning objectives, facilitator and participant characteristics, and recruitment for work with couples in stepfamilies.

Higginbotham, B., * Henderson, K., * & Adler-Baeder, F. (2007). Using research in marriage and relationship education programming. Forum for Family and Consumer Issues, 12(1).

Abstract: Research and programming are interrelated. Good research leads to good programming and good programs can lead to good research. This article describes methods to incorporate research into marriage and relationship programming and ways to generate new research. Specifically, research informed programming and programmatic research are discussed. A process to develop and modify programs using existing research is highlighted as well as techniques to research existing marriage and relationship education programs.

Futris, T., Adler-Baeder, F., Dean, K.,* McFadyen, J.* (2005). Best practices for couple’s education: Summary of a dialogue between researchers and educators. Forum for Family and Consumer Issues, 10(1).

Abstract: Because the health of the couple relationship in a family is inextricably linked with the well-being of the family’s children and with the overall well-being of the family, many family and consumer scientists are beginning to focus on including couples/marital education in their program offerings. The following article summarizes a unique dialogue between leading researchers in the field of marital quality and Extension faculty/staff who focused on the research implications for key program content and implementation.

Adler-Baeder, F. & Higginbotham, B.* (2004). The implications of remarriage and stepfamily formation for marriage education. Family Relations, 53(5), 448-458. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.0197-6664.2004.00053.x

Abstract: Couples in remarriages with stepchildren are a significant portion of the marriage population and have unique educational needs regarding aspects of couple functioning within the context of stepfamily development. From a review of the literature, we examine current curricula focused on these couples. Information is offered on implementation issues regarding recruitment, delivery context, facilitator and participant characteristics, and evaluation.

Other Related Research by Dr. Julianne McGill

Dr. McGill is an Assistant Research Professor in the Human Sciences and Family Studies Department at Auburn University. Her email address is [email protected].

McGill, J. M., Burke, L. K., & Adler-Baeder, F. (2020). The dyadic influences of mindfulness on relationship functioning. Journal of Social and Personal Relationships.

Abstract: Using family stress and coping theory, the current study assessed dyadic influences of specific facets of mindfulness (nonreactivity, acting with awareness, and nonjudgment), accounting for stress levels, on relationship quality and sexual satisfaction in an ethnically and economically diverse sample of 847 married and unmarried heterosexual couples. Results from actor–partner interdependence models indicated a positive association between one’s own report and partners’ report of nonreactivity and one’s own reports of relationship quality for both men and women. Men’s and women’s acting with awareness was associated with women’s sexual satisfaction. Nonjudgment was not uniquely associated with one’s own or one’s partner’s relationship quality or sexual satisfaction. Since the majority of research on mindfulness and relationship quality uses broad global measures of mindfulness, this study provides novel information on the comparative strength of dimensions of mindfulness on distinct areas of couple functioning using a dyadic approach. Suggestions for future work and implications for research and practice are discussed.

McGill, J., & Adler-Baeder, F. (2020) Exploring the link between mindfulness and relationship quality: Direct and indirect pathways. Journal of Marital and Family Therapy, 46(3), 523-540. https://doi.org/10.1111/jmft.12412

Abstract: This study serves to advance the empirical research on predictors of relationship quality by considering the role of trait mindfulness in combination with measures of stress and positive relationship behaviors among a diverse sample of men and women in couple relationships.  Positive relationship behaviors are comparatively the most closely linked with relationship quality for both men and women in our sample. As more clinicians are incorporating mindfulness training with clients, these types of explorations can serve to inform practices on relative value of intervention strategies and possible pathways for enhancing couple relationship quality.

Burke, L., McGill, J., & Adler-Baeder, (2019). Exploring the links between facets of mindfulness and parenting efficacy and stress. Journal of Child and Family Studies, 29(6), 1679-1691. (IF: 1.925)

Abstract: The study of mindfulness has expanded in recent decades; however, there is still limited published research on the relationship between mindfulness and parenting. Further, scarce previous research considered individual characteristics as moderators (e.g., gender and age of child) of links between mindfulness and parenting outcomes. The current study draws from family stress and resilience theory to examine the relationship between three facets of mindfulness and parenting stress and efficacy. Multi-level regression models were utilized in a diverse sample of 1007 parents. Nonreactivity of inner experience was most predictive of parenting efficacy compared to acting with awareness, whereas awareness was most predictive of lower parenting stress compared to nonreactivity. Nonjudging of inner experience was not directly related to parenting efficacy or parenting stress considering other facets of mindfulness. The link between nonjudging and parenting efficacy was stronger for fathers than mothers. The positive link between nonreactivity and parenting efficacy was stronger for parents of older children and the negative link between levels of nonreactivity and parenting stress was stronger for parents of young children. Although each facet is related in some way to parenting outcomes, certain areas of mindfulness may be particularly important to emphasize in mindfulness-based parenting education programs. Further, these priority facets may differ slightly based on parent and child characteristics.

McElwain, A., McGill, J., & Savasuk-Luxton, R.* (2017). Youth relationship education: A meta-analysis. Child and Youth Services Review, 82, 499-507. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.childyouth.2017.09.036

Abstract: This study examines the efficacy of youth-focused relationship education (YRE) on multiple outcomes: conflict management, faulty relationship beliefs, and healthy relationship attitudes. Overall, YRE programs are effective in changing conflict management and faulty relationship beliefs.

McGill, J., Adler-Baeder, F., & Rodriguez, P.* (2016). Mindfully in love: A meta-analysis of the association between mindfulness and relationship satisfaction. Journal of Human Sciences and Extension, 4, 89-101. (IF: n/a)

Abstract: Mindfulness is an individual practice, where one has a heightened awareness of the present moment. An extensive research literature finds links between trait mindfulness and individual-level physical and mental health benefits. A limited but growing amount of research focuses on the association between mindfulness and romantic relationship satisfaction. Though there have been comprehensive reviews, no study has statistically tested the magnitude of the association between mindfulness and relationship satisfaction. Better understanding the value of this practice for relationships can serve to inform community educators and practitioners focused on promoting healthy family relationships. This study used a meta-analytic technique focused on 12 effect sizes from 10 different studies, and found that the relationship between mindfulness and relationship satisfaction was statistically significant with an overall effect size of .27. This finding suggests that higher levels of mindfulness are associated with higher levels of relationship satisfaction; therefore, educators can reasonably consider level of mindfulness as an education target.