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Publication Date

2017-06-29

Availability

UM campus only

Embargo Period

2017-06-29

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PHD)

Department

Psychology (Arts and Sciences)

Date of Defense

2016-05-26

First Committee Member

Brian D. Doss

Second Committee Member

Kiara Timpano

Third Committee Member

Amy Weisman de Mamani

Fourth Committee Member

Kristen M. Lindahl

Fifth Committee Member

Laura Kohn-Wood

Abstract

Divorce (Krieder, 2005) and relationship distress (Whisman, Beach, & Snyder, 2008) are highly prevalent in the United States and are associated with a host of negative mental (Whisman, & Bruce, 1999) and physical health consequences (see Kiecolt-Glaser et al., 2005) for partners as well as their children (e.g., Ablow, Measelle, Cowan, & Cowan, 2009). Underserved couples such as racial/ethnic minorities and Low Income populations are at higher risk for marital and relationship dissolution and distress (CDC, 2013; Snyder, 1997; Lundquist et al., 2014). Unfortunately, the field currently faces two key challenges in improving the romantic relationships of underserved populations. First, the large-scale efforts to date, such as Building Strong Families (BSF: Wood, Moore, Clarkwest, Killewald, & Monahan, 2012) and Supporting Healthy Marriage (SHM; Lundquist et al., 2014) have struggled to find ways to encourage the majority of couples to attend the recommended dosage of sessions. Second, even when couples attend, many interventions have not been effective (Wood, Moore, & Clarkwest, 2011). OurRelationship.com is a brief web-based program with demonstrated efficacy in attracting and retaining a diverse population of couples, and in improving relationship and individual functioning (Doss et al., 2016). However, it is unclear whether these results will generalize to ethnic, cultural, and socioeconomic minority couples. Study 1 examined the effects of the OurRelationship program for underserved couples. Results demonstrated that underserved couples experienced significant gains in the intervention and that the intervention effects experienced by underserved couples were generally equivalent to the average couple. Study 2 compared the cost-effectiveness of the OurRelationship program to Integrative Behavioral Couple therapy, an in-person treatment for distressed couples with strong empirical support. Results demonstrated that, despite large upfront costs associated with developing the online program, the OurRelationship program was more cost effective than in-person couple therapy. Implications for future research and clinical application of online, relationship-focused treatment programs are discussed.

Keywords

couple; minority; internet; relationship distress; web-based intervention

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