2017 Evaluation Overview – Healthy Relationship Programs

Youth relationship education: A meta-analysis McElwain, A., McGill, J., & Savasuk-Luxton, R. (2017). Youth relationship education: A meta-analysis. Children and Youth Services Review82, 499-507.

Evaluation Summaries Healthy Romantic Relationship Programs for Youth

 The following list of pioneering current empirical research shows the benefits of teaching youth healthy romantic relationship skills. Such programs can:

  • Reduce teen dating violence and abuse and increase youth’s assets. The students who participated in the Love U2 Relationship Smarts program experienced significant improvements in terms of increases in relationship knowledge, decreases in destructive verbal and physical conflict strategies, increases in reasoning strategies, and positive changes in relationship beliefs regarding healthy relationships. Furthermore, analyses indicated that RQ+ increased conflict management capabilities in teens especially minority and socioeconomically disadvantaged youth and those living in stepfamilies. (Jennifer Kerpelman, PhD, Auburn University, et al; Family Relations (2007), Journal of Couple & Relationship Therapy. April 19, 2010.)
  • In 2012, Relationship Smarts PLUS and Love Notes (its adaptation for young adults and young parents) were placed on the CDC-SAMHSA National Registry of Evidence Based Programs and Practices list.
  • Reverse harmful behavior and equip future parents. The young people who participated in the Love Notes program learned the skills needed to manage conflict, hold aggression in check, be assertive, and better assess relationships, which leads to more positive beliefs around parenting. Jennifer Ker leman, Ph.D., Auburn University, in unpublished reports to the Youth Build USA and the Annie E. Casey Foundation, 2009 and 2010.
  • Love Notes v2.0 Tier II Pregnancy Prevention Evaluation preliminary results: Those involved in both Love Notes and Reducing the Risk were slightly more likely to be abstinent, as well as to use birth control and condoms than the control group. However, those that participated in Love Notes had less future intentions for sexual intercourse. This means that those who were in the experimental conditions were more likely than those in the control condition to partake in safer sex, while those in the relationship-building course are more likely to only participate in sexual activity while in a safe relationship. (Anita Barbee, PhD, University of Louisville, KY)
  • Significantly delay the onset of sexual activity by increasing self-awareness, self-discipline, the ability to delay gratification, and long-term goal development. The Art of Loving Well curriculum was developed at Boston University under a five-year grant from the Office of Adolescent Pregnancy Programs (OAPP) at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. It consists of an anthology of compelling literary selections along with activities to enable students to learn vicariously from their readings and from conversations with teachers, parents, and friends. (Amelia Kreitzer, Project Evaluator, CSTEEP, Boston College 1992.)
  • Improve students’ ability to resist sexual pressure and decrease negative behaviors at home and at school. The Connections: Dating and Emotions curriculum is effective as a teen pregnancy prevention curriculum by increasing teens’ ability to resist sexual pressure. The curriculum also shows promise in reducing violence in relationships and negative behaviors at school and at home. (Scott Gardner, PhD, South Dakota State University. 2005)
  • Decrease peer-to-peer physical violence and improve communications with parents. The Connections: Relationships and Marriage curriculum appears to be beneficial in changing attitudes and actual behaviors in high school students from diverse racial backgrounds. It decreases the use of verbally aggressive and violent tactics in interpersonal conflicts. It tends to improve parent-child communication. The students taking this course become less favorable toward divorce, more favorable toward marriage, and more favorable toward preparing for and protecting their marriage. (Scott Gardner, PhD, South Dakota State University. 2005.)