Recruitment and Retention of Diverse Couples in Relationship Education with Integrated Economic Services
Compared to higher income couples, those with low incomes experience a host of challenges and disparities in their intimate relationships, including lower levels of relationship satisfaction, higher rates of breakup of cohabiting relationships, and higher rates of divorce. In recognition of these disparities, a number of interventions targeting couples with low incomes have been developed. These interventions historically focused primarily on improving relationship skills through relationship education, but in recent years a new approach that integrates economic-focused interventions alongside relationship education has emerged. This integrated approach is intended to better address the challenges facing couples with low incomes, but the theory-driven, top-down approach to intervention development leaves open the question of whether couples with low incomes are interested in participating in a program that combines these two disparate components. The current study draws from a large randomized controlled trial of one such program (N = 879 couples) to provide descriptive information about the recruitment and retention of couples with low incomes in a study of relationship education with integrated economic services. Results indicate that it is possible to recruit a large, linguistically, and racially diverse sample of couples living with low income to participate in an integrated intervention, but the uptake of relationship-focused services was higher than the uptake of economic-focused services. Additionally, attrition over a 1-year follow-up data collection period was low but required labor-intensive efforts to reach participants for the survey. We highlight successful strategies for the recruitment and retention of diverse couples and discuss implications for future intervention efforts.