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Do Couple Relationship Education Programs Affect Coparenting, Parenting, and Child Outcomes? A Meta-Analytic Study

Abstract

A handful of meta-analytic studies of have documented the impact of couple relationship education (CRE) programs on couple outcomes. Recently, an increasing number of studies have examined whether CRE also impacts a wider set of family outcomes. Basic research demonstrates the importance of positive couple relationship quality for effective parenting and child well-being. This meta-analytic study investigates whether CRE programs have effects on coparenting, parenting, and child outcomes. We analyzed 40 control-group studies and found small, average effect sizes for coparenting (d = 0.073, p < 0.01) and child well-being/behavior (d = 0.056, p < 0.01), but not for parenting (d = 0.023, ns). (Effect sizes for 12 1-group/pre-post studies are reported in online supplemental appendix S2.) Moderator analyses of control-group studies found differences in several methodological and participant characteristics that provide potential clues for future research and improving the practice of CRE to improve children’s well-being.

Highlights

  • 40 control-group studies found small but significant average effect sizes for coparenting and child well-being/behavior, but not for parenting.

  • Larger effects were found for more recent studies, studies conducted outside the purview of the ACF-OPRE, studies with treatment-on-the-treated analyses, and studies of programs that included both married and unmarried couples.

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Acknowledgements

We are grateful to Eden Loveridge, Emily Milius, and Misha Duncan for their assistance in coding studies.

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Correspondence to Alan J. Hawkins.

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Hawkins, A.J., Hill, M.S., Eliason, S.A. et al. Do Couple Relationship Education Programs Affect Coparenting, Parenting, and Child Outcomes? A Meta-Analytic Study. J Child Fam Stud 31, 588–598 (2022). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10826-022-02229-w

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Keywords

  • Meta-analysis
  • Couple relationship education
  • Coparenting
  • Parenting