The Effectiveness of the Within Our Reach Relationship Education Program for Couples: Findings from a Federal Randomized Trial

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College of Arts Humanities and Social Sciences, Psychology


This study examined the effectiveness of a couple‐based relationship education program, Within Our Reach. Secondary data (n = 3,609) were analyzed from the federal Supporting Healthy Marriage project. Couples were randomly assigned to receive Within Our Reach and associated services or to a no‐treatment (treatment‐as‐usual) control group. Those assigned to Within Our Reach reported better couple and individual outcomes on 8 of 12 outcomes measured (M ES = .15) at the 12‐month follow‐up and 6 of 10 outcomes measured at the 30‐month follow‐up (M ES = .14), including higher relationship happiness, more warmth and support, more positive communication, less negative behavior and emotion, less psychological abuse, less physical assault (for men), lower psychological distress (for women), and less infidelity. They were also less likely to report that their marriage was in trouble. These effects were generally small in size and many were replicated across the two follow‐ups. There were no significant differences between those assigned to Within Our Reach versus control on cooperative parenting, severe psychological assault, or percent married. Implications for future research, programming, and policy are discussed.

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