A Randomized, Controlled Trial of the Impact of the Couple CARE for Parents of Newborns Program on the Prevention of Intimate Partner Violence and Relationship Problems

Richard E. Heyman, Amy M.Smith Slep, Michael F. Lorber, Danielle M. Mitnick, Shu Xu, Katherine J.W. Baucom, W. Kim Halford, Phyllis Holditch Niolon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Effective, accessible prevention programs are needed for adults at heightened risk for intimate partner violence (IPV). This parallel group randomized controlled trial examines whether such couples receiving the American version of Couple CARE for Parents of Newborns (CCP; Halford et al. 2009) following the birth of a child, compared with controls, report fewer first occurrences of clinically significant IPV, less frequent physical and psychological IPV, and improved relationship functioning. Further, we test whether intervention effects are moderated by level of risk for IPV. Couples at elevated risk for IPV (N = 368) recruited from maternity units were randomized to CCP (n = 188) or a 24-month waitlist (n = 180) and completed measures of IPV and relationship functioning at baseline, post-program (when child was 8 months old), and two follow-ups (at 15 and 24 months). Intervention effects were tested using intent to treat (ITT) as well as complier average causal effect (CACE; Jo and Muthén 2001) structural equation models. CCP did not significantly prevent clinically significant IPV nor were there significant main effects of CCP on clinically significant IPV, frequency of IPV, or most relationship outcomes in the CACE or ITT analyses. Risk moderated the effect of CCP on male-to-female physical IPV at post-program, with couples with a planned pregnancy declining, but those with unplanned pregnancies increasing. This study adds to previous findings that prevention programs for at-risk couples are not often effective and may even be iatrogenic for some couples.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)620-631
Number of pages12
JournalPrevention Science
Issue number5
StatePublished - Jul 15 2019



  • Intimate partner violence
  • Partner aggression
  • Prevention
  • Randomized controlled trial

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health

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