Date of Award:


Document Type:


Degree Name:

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Family, Consumer, and Human Development


Brian Higginbotham


Over the past decade, relationship education has grown as a means of enhancing couple relations. This study examines the experiences of 2,828 ethnically diverse and low-income adults who participated in the Smart Steps for Stepfamilies: Embrace the Journey program, a 12-hour stepfamily education program. Self-report measures of relationship quality, couple commitment, and relationship instability were gathered prior to and immediately after the Smart Steps intervention as well as six weeks, six months, and one year post-program. Results suggest that stepfamily participants experienced increases in relationship quality; however, these increases reduced to near pre-program levels one year after the programs completion. Results further showed no changes in couple commitment or relationship instability measures nor among differing participant groups including Latinos, European Americans, low-income, moderate- income, married, unmarried, those in a first marriage, second remarriage, and higher order remarriage. Finally a cost-analysis of the program was conducted. Application of these findings and policy implications are discussed.