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A mixed methods feasibility study to evaluate an online relationship education intervention for couples

Short, P. (2021). A mixed methods feasibility study to evaluate an online relationship education intervention for couples. (Unpublished Doctoral thesis, City, University of London)


The aim of this study was to evaluate the feasibility, acceptability and effectiveness of a novel online, low-dose (<1 hour) programme of relationship education videos (REVs) for couples. Relationship distress is ubiquitous but couple therapy is often stigmatised and thus delayed or avoided. Moreover, cost and logistics accentuate social inequality regarding accessibility. The need for an accessible, affordable, universally relevant and non-stigmatising intervention is therefore vital. This study was a mixed methods equal-status (experimental and qualitative) design. Seventy one couples reflecting a spectrum of relationship distress and different types of relationships (in terms of ages, relationship duration and relationship status) were randomly allocated into one of three groups (23 REV, 23 shared relationship activity (SRA), 23 wait-list control (WLC)). Participants in the SRA group watched and discussed three nature videos over three weeks. Participants in the REV group watched and discussed the three REVs over the same time period. Analysis of selfreport data found almost complete adherence with all elements of the REV programme and there was no attrition once couples committed to participate. Whilst there was no improvement on some predicted measures, there was a significant improvement in relationship satisfaction in the REV group. Thirty-two REV participants self-recorded interviews about their experiences. A thematic template analysis identified three themes that described the processes underpinning the improvement in relationship satisfaction. Firstly, participants ‘weighed up the risks versus rewards of participating’. Secondly, they valued ‘the structure, framework and focus’ provided by the REV’ in helping them work on their relationship. And thirdly, the video content ‘reframed perspectives on me, you and us’. The integration of qualitative and quantitative results suggest considerable potential for the REV as a universally relevant entry-level intervention for couples. Further research should evaluate whether these findings are maintained over the longer term.

Publication Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
Departments: School of Health & Psychological Sciences > Psychology
School of Health & Psychological Sciences > School of Health & Psychological Sciences Doctoral Theses
[thumbnail of DPsych Portfolio Priscilla Short City university March 2021 - final redacted version EWDP.pdf]
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