Is Communication a Mechanism of Relationship Education Effects Among Rural African Americans?

Allen W. Barton, Steven R.H. Beach, Justin A. Lavner, Chalandra M. Bryant, Steven M. Kogan, Gene H. Brody

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

33 Scopus citations


Enhancing communication as a means of promoting relationship quality has been increasingly questioned, particularly for couples at elevated sociodemographic risk. In response, the current study investigated communication change as a mechanism accounting for changes in relationship satisfaction and confidence among 344 rural, predominantly low-income African American couples with an early adolescent child who participated in a randomized controlled trial of the Protecting Strong African American Families (ProSAAF) program. Approximately 9 months after baseline assessment, intent-to-treat analyses indicated that ProSAAF couples demonstrated improved communication, satisfaction, and confidence when compared with couples in the control condition. Improvements in communication mediated ProSAAF effects on relationship satisfaction and confidence; conversely, neither satisfaction nor confidence mediated intervention effects on changes in communication. These results underscore the short-term efficacy of a communication-focused, culturally sensitive prevention program and suggest that communication is a possible mechanism of change in relationship quality among low-income African American couples.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1450-1461
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Marriage and Family
Issue number5
StatePublished - Oct 2017
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This research was supported by award R01 HD069439 funded by the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development and by award P30 DA027827 funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse. The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Institutes of Health. The authors thank Eileen Neubaum-Carlan for her editorial assistance in the preparation of this article. We also thank the families for their willingness to participate in this research.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2017 National Council on Family Relations


  • African Americans
  • communication
  • confidence
  • mechanism
  • relationship education
  • satisfaction


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