Performance Improvement 2006. Systematic Review of the Impact of Marriage and Relationship Programs


Prior research suggests that there is promising evidence that couples participating in marriage and relationship education programs can learn specific skills to improve their relationships and reduce patterns of negative interaction in order to maintain higher levels of relationship satisfaction. This study reviewed findings from 39 studies that represent the highest quality evidence available in the field and synthesizes the findings meta-analytically. The process of identifying and screening studies involved the review of more than 12,000 research abstracts and more than 500 program evaluations. Only 39 studies remained after the evaluations were screened against the inclusion criteria. Through the meta-analysis, the reviewers found a moderate average effect size of .68 for relationship satisfaction and a small effect size of .26 for relationship communication. These findings add further evidence that marriage education services can have a positive effect on couples’ relationships and marital satisfaction. This report makes a valuable contribution to the field of learning in this arena because it was conducted systematically, included a range of marriage programs, and included only rigorous evaluations that were carefully screened for quality.

PIC ID: 8225; Agency Sponsor: ACF-OPRE, Office of Planning, Research and Evaluation; Federal Contact: Campbell, Nancye, 202-401-5760; Performer: The Urban Institute, Washington, DC

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