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Supporting Healthy Marriage Evaluation: Eight Sites within the United States, 2003-2013

Resource Type
Dataset : event/transaction data, experimental data, observational data, survey data
  • Hsueh, JoAnn (MDRC)
  • Knox, Virginia (MDRC)
Other Title
  • Archival Version (Subtitle)
Publication Date
Funding Reference
  • United States Department of Health and Human Services. Administration for Children and Families. Office of Planning, Research and Evaluation
Free Keywords
child development; child rearing; child welfare; childhood; children; divorce; drinking behavior; drug use; employment; families; family structure; health attitudes; health status; household composition; household income; language; marriage; marriage counseling; outcome evaluation; parent child relationship; parental attitudes; parental influence; parenting skills; poverty programs; pregnancy; social behavior; work experience; working hours
  • Abstract

    The Supporting Healthy Marriage (SHM) evaluation was launched in 2003 to develop, to implement, and to test the effectiveness of a program aimed at strengthening low-income couples' marriages as one approach for supporting stable and nurturing family environments and parents' and children's well-being. The evaluation was led by MDRC and was sponsored by the Office of Planning, Research and Evaluation in the Administration for Children and Families, United States Department of Health and Human Services.The SHM program was a voluntary yearlong marriage education program for low-income married couples who had children or were expecting a child. The program provided a series of group workshops based on structured curricula designed to enhance couples' relationships; supplemental activities to build on workshop themes; and family support services to address participation barriers, connect families with other services, and reinforce curricular themes. The study sample consists of 6,298 couples (12,596 adult sample members) who were expecting a child or had a child under 18 years old at the time of study entry. The sample consists primarily of low-to-modest income, married couples with diverse racial and ethnic backgrounds. In each family, one child was randomly selected to be the focus of any child-related measures gathered in the data collection activities. These children ranged from pre-birth to 14 years old at the time of enrollment in the study. Follow-up interviews were conducted at 12 and 30 months after baseline data collection. More detail is provided in the study documentation.
  • Abstract

    The purpose of this study is to provide reliable information about the implementation and impacts of a marriage education program designed for low income married couples who are expecting or have a child through a rigorous research design. Another important goal of the project is to build a firm knowledge base for practitioners about how these programs can be effectively implemented on a relatively large scale.
  • Abstract

    Three waves of data were collected, in addition to detailed information about program group members' participation and engagement in SHM services. The first wave of data was collected when families first enrolled in the SHM study, just prior to being randomly assigned. Husbands and wives were asked to complete a set of baseline instruments that capture socio-demographic and other characteristics such as employment, education, household composition, marital quality and satisfaction, and prior life experiences. The second wave of data was collected approximately 12 months after families first entered the study, through an adult follow-up survey and an observational study. All husbands and wives were asked to complete a follow-up survey (10,181 respondents). The survey includes measures of household composition, marital stability, marital quality, parental psychological well-being, parental employment and economic outcomes, material and financial hardship, social support and networks, coparenting relationship, parenting, father involvement, and child well-being and adjustment. A subsample of families was also selected to participate in a series of videotaped observations of couple, coparenting, and parent-child interactions (1,511 families responded). Observational measures include warmth and support, positive communication, and anger and hostility in the couple relationship, as well as positive responsive parenting, hostile-competitive parenting, measures of adolescents' warmth and support, adolescents' positive communication skills, and adolescents' anger and hostility, and infant behavioral measures. The third wave of data was collected approximately 30 months after families first entered the study, and included three types of data: an adult survey, a youth survey and direct child assessments. The 30-month adult survey (9,369 respondents) mirrored the 12-month survey to a large extent, but included an expanded set of child and parenting items. Focal children who were 2.5 to 8 years old at the follow-up point participated in a set of direct child assessments (2,539 respondents) measuring cognitive development and self regulation. Focal children who were 8.5 to 17 years old at the follow-up point participated in a youth survey (1,134 respondents) which measured youths' psychological adjustment, school engagement, academic achievement, parent-child relationship, perceptions of and reactivity to inter-parental conflict, dating and romantic relationships, and risky behaviors.
  • Methods

    ICPSR data undergo a confidentiality review and are altered when necessary to limit the risk of disclosure. ICPSR also routinely creates ready-to-go data files along with setups in the major statistical software formats as well as standard codebooks to accompany the data. In addition to these procedures, ICPSR performed the following processing steps for this data collection: Performed consistency checks.; Created variable labels and/or value labels.; Standardized missing values.; Performed recodes and/or calculated derived variables.; Checked for undocumented or out-of-range codes..
  • Methods

    Presence of Common Scales: Several Likert-type scales were used.
  • Methods

    Response Rates: Response rates vary; please refer to the study documentation for more information.
  • Table of Contents


    • DS0: Study-Level Files
    • DS1: Baseline Data
    • DS2: 12-Month Survey
    • DS3: Management Information System (MIS) Extended Activities
    • DS4: Management Information System (MIS) Family Support Coordinator Contacts
    • DS5: Management Information System (MIS) Marriage Education Groups
    • DS6: Management Information System (MIS) Payments
    • DS7: Management Information System (MIS) Referrals
    • DS8: Observational Study - Adult Dataset
    • DS9: Observational Study - Child Dataset
    • DS10: Observational Study - Inter-rater Reliability Dataset
    • DS11: 30-Month Outcomes Dataset
    • DS12: 30-Month Survey
    • DS13: 30-Month Youth Survey Dataset
    • DS14: Direct Child Assessment Dataset
    • DS15: Child Longitudinal File
    • DS16: Standardized Baseline Dataset
Temporal Coverage
  • 2003 / 2014
    Time period: 2003--2014
  • 2003 / 2011
    Collection date: 2003--2011
Geographic Coverage
  • Florida
  • Kansas
  • New York (state)
  • Oklahoma
  • Pennsylvania
  • Texas
  • United States
  • Washington
Sampled Universe
Low-income married couples with children in the United States. Smallest Geographic Unit: Cities or counties
The study sample consists of 6,298 couples (12,596 adult sample members) who were expecting or had a child under 18 years old. For each couple, one focal child (who ranged from pre-birth to 14 years old) was selected, who was the target of all child-focused measures gathered in the data collection activities. The study utilized a random assignment design. Couples were randomly assigned to the program or control group within each of eight local programs (sites) that were operated in ten geographically diverse locations across the United States.
Collection Mode
  • computer-assisted personal interview (CAPI), computer-assisted telephone interview (CATI), coded video observation, cognitive assessment test, face-to-face interview, paper and pencil interview (PAPI), self-enumerated questionnaire, on-site questionnaire

    Before working with the data, users should review the study level documentation for information on missing values, value labels in Stata, and value imputation that are found in the data.

2014-12-19 The study-level overview documentation and the documentation for datasets 3 and 11 has been revised and the files available for download have been updated. Funding insitution(s): United States Department of Health and Human Services. Administration for Children and Families. Office of Planning, Research and Evaluation (HHS-223-03-0034).
One or more files in this study are not available for download due to special restrictions; consult the study documentation to learn more on how to obtain the data.
Alternative Identifiers
  • 34420 (Type: ICPSR Study Number)
  • Is previous version of
    DOI: 10.3886/ICPSR34420.v1

Update Metadata: 2015-08-05 | Issue Number: 8 | Registration Date: 2015-06-16

Hsueh, JoAnn; Knox, Virginia (2014): Supporting Healthy Marriage Evaluation: Eight Sites within the United States, 2003-2013. Archival Version. Version: v0. ICPSR - Interuniversity Consortium for Political and Social Research. Dataset.