Oklahoma Marriage Initiative (OMI): Using Research to Guide the Development of an Evolving Statewide Initiative. A Baseline Assessment of Oklahomans Marital Attitudes and Behavior

07/31/2008

One of the first activities of the RAG was to develop a survey of Oklahomas citizens, focusing on attitudes and behavior regarding marriage and divorce. In 2001, the OMI contracted with the Oklahoma State University Bureau of Social Research (OSUBSR) for the statewide survey, which consisted of a random sample of 2,020 adults in the general population and 303 Medicaid clients. The survey was designed in collaboration with members of the RAG, who also contributed to the data analysis and report (Johnson, et al. 2002). Although the motivation for the survey was to assess Oklahomans openness to a statewide marriage initiative and attitudes about marriage and divorce, it ultimately served other purposes as well. In particular, it helped inform OMI planners about key population groups that might be targeted. For example, one finding from the survey was that the average age of first marriage was lower in Oklahoma than the rest of the country, a fact that suggested the implementation of services for young population groups, such as high school students. An oversampling of low-income individuals revealed that although many were single, they (like other Oklahomans) would be interested in marriage education services. This finding contributed to a focus on services for the low-income population.

Using the OMI baseline survey data, several RAG members collaborated on an analysis of the association between participation in premarital preparation and marital quality and stability (Stanley et al. 2006). Because this analysis was based on data collected prior to widespread implementation of OMI workshops and is nonexperimental in nature, it does not assess the impact of the OMI, but confirms the potential usefulness of premarital preparation for Oklahomans. Since Oklahoma conducted its statewide survey, other states, including Florida, Louisiana, and Utah have followed suit.

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