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Does Couple and Relationship Education Work for Individuals in Stepfamilies? A Meta-analytic Study


  • Department of Human Development and Family Studies, Auburn University, 203 Spidle Hall, Auburn, AL 36849.

Current address: 123 Dawson Hall, The University of Georgia, Athens, GA 30602 (


Recent meta-analytic efforts have documented how couple and relationship education (CRE) programs promote healthy relationship and family functioning. The current meta-analysis contributes to this body of literature by examining stepfamily couples, an at-risk, subpopulation of participants, and assessing the effectiveness of CRE programs for individuals in these relationships. Findings are aggregated from 14 evaluation studies of CRE programs designed for stepcouples. Analyses examine effects by study design (i.e., comparison-group and one-group/pre-post) and within specific domains (i.e., family, parental, and couple functioning). The interventions have, on average, small effects overall (comparison-group: d = .20; one-group/pre-post: d = .23), and slightly larger effects in family and parental functioning when examining specific outcomes (d = .20 to .35). An examination of effectiveness over time reveals that earlier studies (i.e., 1980s and 1990s) show larger effects than more recent studies. Implications for CRE programs for stepfamilies and evaluation needs are discussed.