A randomized controlled trial of brief coparenting and relationship interventions during the transition to parenthood

Brian D. Doss, Larisa N. Cicila, Annie C. Hsueh, Kristen R. Morrison, Kathryn Carhart

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

35 Scopus citations


The transition to parenthood has been repeatedly identified as a stressful period, with couples reporting difficulties in domains of individual, coparenting, and relationship functioning. Moreover, these difficulties have been shown to impact children's development. To buffer against these difficulties, numerous effective parenting, couple, and combined interventions have been developed; however, these interventions are typically lengthy, which limits their potential for dissemination. Therefore, in the present study, we developed and tested separate 6-hr interventions that focused exclusively on improving either coparenting or relationship functioning. In a randomized control trial, 90 heterosexual couples (180 individuals) were randomly assigned to an information control group, a coparenting intervention, or a relationship intervention and assessed on 7 occasions during the 2 years following birth. Results revealed that women and high-risk men in both the couple and coparenting interventions showed fewer declines in relationship satisfaction (Cohen's d = 0.53-0.99) and other areas of relationship functioning. Women also reported improved coparenting in both intervention groups (Cohen's d = 0.47-1.06). Additionally, women in both interventions experienced less perceived stress during the first year after birth. Given similar effects of the 2 interventions on coparenting and relationship functioning, future dissemination may be enhanced by delivery of coparenting interventions, as coparenting (compared with relationship) interventions seem to attract more interest from couples and are likely easier to integrate into existing services.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)483-494
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Family Psychology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Aug 2014


  • Coparenting
  • Intervention
  • Perceived stress
  • Relationship satisfaction
  • Transition to parenthood

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychology(all)


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