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Promoting a Positive Transition to Parenthood: A Randomized Clinical Trial of Couple Relationship Education


The transition to parenthood is often associated with a decline in couple relationship adjustment. Couples (n = 71) expecting their first child were randomly assigned to either: (a) Becoming a Parent (BAP), a maternal parenting education program; or (b) Couple CARE for Parents (CCP), a couple relationship and parenting education program. Couples were assessed pre-intervention (last trimester of pregnancy), post-intervention (5 months postpartum), and follow-up (12 months postpartum). Relative to BAP, CCP reduced negative couple communication from pre- to post-intervention, and prevented erosion of relationship adjustment and self-regulation in women but not men from pre-intervention to follow-up. Mean parenting stress reflected positive adjustment to parenthood with no differences between BAP and CCP. CCP shows promise as a brief program that can enhance couple communication and women’s adjustment to parenthood.

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Fig. 1
Fig. 2


  1. 1.

    Usually a minimum of 4 to 5 assessment occasions are suggested for estimating curvilinear models (Singer and Willett 2003). We initially conducted a linear analysis, which showed significant intervention effects on each communication variable. However, given the plot of raw data suggests non-linear change, focusing on these linear analyses was deemed potentially misleading. The quadratic terms were able to estimated with the three times of assessment by modelling the time effect as fixed (i.e., the variance and covariance of slope were set to zero). Adding a quadratic term significantly improved the fit of the models (i.e., significantly reduced the deviance) for each of the three communication measures.

  2. 2.

    The ICC is a ratio of the deviance accounted for at level 2 (couple) divided by the sum of the deviance at levels 1 (time) and 2 (couple). Note we calculated the variance component analysis before entering the gender-specific terms into the model.


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Correspondence to Jemima Petch.

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Halford, W.K., Petch, J. & Creedy, D.K. Promoting a Positive Transition to Parenthood: A Randomized Clinical Trial of Couple Relationship Education. Prev Sci 11, 89–100 (2010). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11121-009-0152-y

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  • Parenting Stress
  • Couple Relationship
  • Infant Care
  • Variance Component Analysis
  • Reliable Change Index