Preliminary Efficacy of an Intervention to Reduce Psychosocial Stress and Improve Coping in Low-Income Families

Martha E. Wadsworth, Catherine De Carlo Santiago, Lindsey Einhorn, Erica M. Etter, Shauna Rienks, Howard Markman

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55 Citations (SciVal)


This article reports pre-post intervention results from a randomized controlled trial evaluating the initial efficacy of a couples-based intervention aimed at teaching skills for coping with stress and improving relationship skills in a sample of 173 ethnically diverse low-income co-resident mothers and fathers who were raising at least one child together. Couples were randomly assigned to one of three interventions or to an assessment-only control condition. The Fatherhood, Relationship, and Marriage Education (FRAME) intervention is a 14-h psychoeducation intervention developed specifically to strengthen the ability of low-income mothers and fathers to reduce conflict, cope with stress, and co-parent effectively. Three versions of FRAME were assessed: a men-only group, a women-only group, and a couple's group. The pre-post intervention analyses revealed reductions in financial stress, disengagement coping, and involuntary disengagement responses, as well as improvements in problem solving. These pre-post changes on stress and coping variables were both statistically significant and reliable as assessed by the Reliable Change Index (Jacobson and Truax 1991). Results were particularly strong for the couples' and women's groups. In addition, positive pre-post changes on stress and coping variables were associated with pre-post reductions on symptoms of depression for participants assigned to an intervention. The results demonstrate that participants in FRAME acquire some of the key skills taught in the intervention, and skills acquisition appears to translate into symptom reduction. In addition, this study highlights the value of an intervention aiming to improve the capacity of parents with economic hardship to cope effectively with stress.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)257-271
Number of pages15
JournalAmerican Journal of Community Psychology
Issue number3-4
StatePublished - Dec 2011

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Health(social science)
  • Applied Psychology
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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