The RAGs role to date has largely been to contribute to the initiatives development, rather than evaluate its effectiveness. The RAG acts as a sounding board for new ideas and provides information on emerging research to inform the development and refinement of OMI strategies. During their annual meeting, RAG members report on research that may be relevant to OMI goals and implementation design. The RAG is not strictly reactive; it proposes new ideas and areas in which the initiative might expand or improve and contributes to research activities to guide the development of the initiative. The active participation of the DHS director and the secretary for Health and Human Services provides political and policy context for the researchers and fuels interest. The involvement of the RAG, and the guidance gleaned from the 2001 statewide survey, prompted the OMI to sponsor additional research to inform ongoing development, such as:
- 2003 help-seeking project. The OMI sponsored the Help-Seeking Survey, initiated by a local researcher, to improve understanding of why couples choose to attend marriage education or other couples services (Fournier and Roberts 2003). The project explored barriers that limit attendance with the intention of informing the OMI on ways it could bolster attendance at workshops. The sample consisted of a cross-section of Oklahomans with an oversample of Medicaid recipients, a population with potential need for OMI services. The results suggested ways to increase participation in OMI services.
- 2004 study of PREP® workshops in the prison setting. To begin exploring the potential effects of PREP® on incarcerated individuals, researchers analyzed self-report questionnaire data collected from participating inmates at their first PREP® class and again at their last class (Einhorn et al. in press). Data were collected from 448 inmates but were analyzed only for the 254 participants who completed both questionnaires and were in the same relationship at both time points. Reported results thus omit participants who might have experienced more problems. Nevertheless, the participants included in the findings reported positive changes on several dimensions associated with relationship quality, both among the population overall and for key racial and ethnic subgroups.
- 2005 survey of Medicaid recipients. To inform the potential development of services for low-income expectant couples, the OMI sponsored a survey of pregnant Medicaid recipients. The goal of the survey was to describe the characteristics of the participants, such as their relationship quality, choices concerning marriage, and interest in attending marriage education services. Approximately 500 women and 300 men participated in the survey. The results informed the development of OMIs Family Expectations program for low-income married and unmarried expectant couples.
- 2005 survey of TANF recipients. In 2005, the OMI conducted a survey with a small number of TANF recipients to inform the development of services for low-income individuals and PREP®s developing adaptation, called Within My Reach. The survey asked respondents about their attitudes and beliefs about romantic relationships, their current relationship status, and the quality of and aspirations for their current relationship. While this effort did not result in a formal report or set of findings, survey responses assisted the OMI and curriculum developers in understanding the target population.