Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name


Organizational Unit

College of Arts Humanities and Social Sciences, Psychology

First Advisor

Galena K. Rhoades

Second Advisor

Howard J. Markman

Third Advisor

Elysia P. Davis

Fourth Advisor

Angela J. Narayan

Fifth Advisor

Jesse Owen


Perinatal mental health, Postpartum depression, Relationship education, Romantic relationship


This dissertation evaluated the impact of relationship education on postpartum depression using data from two randomized controlled trials of relationship education for individuals and couples who were pregnant or recently had a baby. Paper 1 focused on a well-established relationship education program for low-income couples in Oklahoma City, Family Expectations. Key findings from Paper 1 demonstrated that being randomized to Family Expectations was associated with lower odds of experiencing depression in the first 12 months after having a baby among both mothers and fathers, though this effect was only marginally significant, and that the program had the strongest impact among couples who enrolled at 21 weeks gestation or later. Paper 2 examined an individual relationship education program for low-income women in Denver, MotherWise. Key findings from Paper 2 demonstrated that participating in MotherWise was not significantly associated with overall lower odds of experiencing postpartum depression; however, MotherWise was effective at preventing postpartum depression for women without histories of depression, as well as women who identify as Black or African American. Taken together, findings from this dissertation project suggest that relationship education is a viable option for preventing depression during the postpartum period, particularly for certain groups. These studies enhance our understanding of the impact of relationship education programming on mental health in low-income families during a particularly vulnerable time for individuals and couples: having a baby. Capitalizing on relationship education programming could be one way to expand the current options for postpartum depression prevention and combat this major public health issue.

Publication Statement

Copyright is held by the author. User is responsible for all copyright compliance.

Rights Holder

Maggie O’Reilly Treter


Received from ProQuest

File Format




File Size

99 pgs


Clinical psychology

Available for download on Thursday, September 26, 2024