The Stable Low-Conflict Index: A policy-relevant outcome in government-funded relationship education efforts

Scott M. Stanley, Allen W. Barton, Lane L. Ritchie, Maggie O.T. Allen, Galena K. Rhoades

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objective: We posit that evaluators of relationship education interventions can explore a policy relevant outcome by assessing relationship stability and conflict in a single index that is based on the literature on the effects of divorce and marital distress on children. We provide an empirical example from a randomized trial. Background: The U.S. Administration for Children and Families funds community-based projects using relationship education with a foundational goal of fostering stable and healthy relationships. Assessing this outcome requires an approach different from separately analyzing stability and relationship quality. Method: We used data (N = 1,156 couples) from a randomized trial of Family Expectations to test the Stable Low-Conflict Index, comparing couples assigned to the intervention to couples assigned to an untreated control group at a follow-up 8 to 9 months postintervention. Results: Intervention couples were more likely to be in a stable, low-conflict relationship at the follow up than control couples (b =.36, SE =.15, odds ratio = 1.44, p =.014). Conclusion: An index based on empirical precedence showed evidence of an intervention impact in a community-based program. Implications: Evaluators of family policy linked interventions may advance the field by exploring outcomes that encapsulate aspects of both relationship stability and quality.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2647-2663
Number of pages17
JournalFamily Relations
Issue number5
StatePublished - Dec 2023


  • couple/marital/romantic relationships
  • prevention/intervention programs and issues

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)


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