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


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


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

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Anthropology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)


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