A Relationship-Strengthening Intervention With Low-Resourced New Parents: The Journey From a Randomized Controlled Trial to a Quasi-Experimental Design and Lessons Learned Along the Way


In most disciplines, randomized controlled trials are considered to be the gold standard for evidence in establishing the most effective interventions and treatments. Thus, using a randomized controlled trial research design was the natural and logical choice when developing the Strong Couples-Strong Children Program. This program was a 5-year community-based intervention developed to determine whether relationship education supported by wraparound services could be effective in strengthening relationship bonds among low-income, unmarried parents. However, implementing the randomized controlled trial with a population facing many complex environmental, individual, and interpersonal problems proved to be very challenging. This case study describes the kinds of barriers encountered, the modifications that were made to shift to a quasi-experimental design and how this design modification was accounted for in the analysis, lessons learned, and recommendations for those considering psychosocial, community-based interventions with economically disadvantaged and marginalized groups.

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