A randomized controlled trial of a couple relationship and coparenting program (Couple CARE for Parents) for high- and low-risk new parents
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OBJECTIVE: This study evaluated the effectiveness of couple relationship education in assisting couples to sustain relationship functioning and parenting sensitivity, and whether benefits were moderated by risk of maladjustment in the transition to parenthood ("risk"). METHOD: Two hundred fifty couples expecting their first child were assessed on risk and randomly assigned to either the Couple CARE for Parents (CCP), a couple relationship- and coparenting-focused education program (n = 125), or the Becoming a Parent Program (BAP), a mother-focused parenting program (n = 125). Couples completed assessments of their couple relationship during pregnancy, after intervention at 4 months postpartum, and at 16 and 28 months postpartum. Observed parenting and self-report parenting stress were assessed at 4 months postpartum, and parenting stress was assessed again at 16 and 28 months postpartum. RESULTS: Risk was associated with greater relationship and parenting adjustment problems. Relative to BAP, CCP women decreased their negative communication and showed a trend to report less parenting stress irrespective of risk level. High-risk women receiving CCP reported higher relationship satisfaction, and were less intrusive in their parenting, than high-risk women receiving BAP. There were no effects of CCP on sensitive parenting and parenting intrusiveness for women. High-risk men in CCP showed a trend for higher relationship satisfaction than high-risk BAP men, but there were no effects of CCP for men on any parenting outcomes. CONCLUSIONS: CCP is a potentially useful intervention, but benefits are primarily for high-risk women.
Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology