This Is AuburnElectronic Theses and Dissertations

Individual Mental Health and Couple Functioning: Exploring Changes among Couple Relationship Education Participant Outcomes




Cooper, Erin

Type of Degree

Master's Thesis


Human Development and Family Studies


The current study uses a randomized control trial design to test the efficacy of two couple relationship education (CRE) programs in a diverse sample of 722 couples. Taking theoretical assumptions from Hammen’s (1991) stress generation theory, this study also adds to the small body of research exploring the processes of change in CRE by assessing whether changes in individual mental health predict subsequent changes in couple functioning. Findings suggest that treatment effects are consistent among outcomes for both men and women in depressive symptoms, general anxiety, relationship quality and relationship adjustment. Findings from the structural equation model also support the stress generation model, suggesting that immediate changes in individual mental health predict changes in couple functioning six months later for both men and women. This study provides support for continued incorporation of self-care and individual mental health targets in CRE curricula and potentially other areas of family life education. Practical implications and future directions are discussed.