Oklahoma Marriage Initiative (OMI): Using Research to Guide the Development of an Evolving Statewide Initiative. Nonexperimental Evaluations of Short-Term Outcomes in Specific Programs

07/31/2008

Because of the diverse range of populations served and the very specific venues in which programs operate, the OMI can be considered a laboratory for exploring program strategies that, although drawing on research for their design, have not previously been tested. First steps toward understanding their potential effects on families included OMI-sponsored studies of implementation and outcomes in two programs - in Oklahomas prisons and in retreats for couples with adoptive and foster children.

  • Prison Inmates.  In 2004, the curriculum developers and others conducted a study with prison inmates participating in PREP® classes at Oklahoma prisons. Prison chaplains collected self-report questionnaires completed by inmates immediately before the first class and upon completing the last class (Einhorn et al. in press). Data were obtained from 448 inmates, although the researchers restricted analysis of the data to the 254 participants who completed questionnaires and were also in the same relationship at both data collection points. The reported results thus omit participants who might have experienced more problems. The participants included in the findings reported positive changes on a variety of dimensions associated with relationship quality, both among overall participants, and for key racial and ethnic subgroups. This outcome research is considered a first step toward potential future work that would more rigorously evaluate the effect of PREP® for prison inmates and their partners.
  • Adoptive/Foster Parents.  As part of its grant from the Administration for Children and Families at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the developers of the ENRICH inventory and others are assessing the short-term outcomes for couples who participate in the OMIs adoptive/foster parent retreats. At the beginning of each retreat, couples complete the ENRICH questionnaire, an in-depth inventory of each persons attitudes toward long-term marital stability and perceptions of marital satisfaction, and their ability to communicate and problem-solve. At the end of the retreat, couples complete a feedback form, reporting on perceptions of change they may have experienced during the weekend retreat. Follow-up interviews are conducted with couples six months later, with open- and closed-ended questions about changes in their relationship since the retreat.

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