Participant characteristics and outcomes of relationship education in the transition to parenthood
Peer reviewed, Journal article
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The study investigated characteristics of couples who chose to attend a relationship education (RE) program offered nationwide in Norway for couples after having their first child, and how participants in RE developed compared to non-participants. Prospective longitudinal data were collected pre- and post-intervention in a sample of 398 Norwegian couples. While the situational and demographic characteristics of the couples did not appear to affect the likelihood of RE participation, couples who chose to participate (121 couples) were characterized by initial high conflict frequency and high destructive conflict behavior. No positive effect of RE participation was detected, while a tendency for reduced constructive conflict behavior was found for participants compared to non-participants. The results are discussed with regard to whether this may reflect selection effects or ineffectiveness of the program. Possible consequences for the practice and implementation of RE in connection with the transition to parenthood are suggested. From a cost-effectiveness perspective, it is suggested that it may prove more sensible to target at-risk parents with a more extensive program.