Relationship Interventions During the Transition to Parenthood: Issues of Timing and Efficacy


  • Present address: Department of Psychology, University of Utah, Salt Lake City, UT 84112.

  • Department of Cariology and Comprehensive Care, New York University, 345 East 24th Street, 2S-VA, New York, NY 10010.

  • Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Southern Denmark, Campusvej 55, Dk-5230 Odense M, Denmark.

Department of Psychology, Aarhus University, Bartholins Alle 16, DK-8000 Århus C, Denmark (


This study evaluated the efficacy of the Prevention and Relationship Enhancement Program (PREP) adapted for Danish couples expecting their first child. Couples were recruited consecutively through a public maternity ward (N = 290). On the basis of due dates, they were allocated to (a) PREP, (b) an information-based control group (INFO), or (c) naturally occurring care. Approximately half of the couples accepted program invitations. Across 24 months, all 3 groups declined in relationship satisfaction, and no significant differences were found between PREP and INFO or between PREP and the natural condition. Negativity decreased from pre- to posttest for women in the PREP condition, but this was not significantly different from the women in the INFO condition. Findings revealed that communication skills training was not effective during pregnancy, and no intervention was successful at preventing the decline in satisfaction during the transition to parenthood. This study suggests that pregnancy may not be an optimal time for relational interventions like PREP.