Faculty Proceedings, Presentations, Speeches and Lectures

Online Relationship Interventions for Veterans

Date Range

2020-11-17 to 2020-11-22

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Background: There is a strong need for relationship interventions among veteran couples. Relationship functioning is linked to many domains of veteran wellbeing, such as PTSD, and veteran patients prefer to include loved ones in their care. However, there are many barriers to accessing in-person couple therapy. Online couples’ interventions may improve access, but their effectiveness for veterans is unknown. This presentation describes two studies testing online relationship programs with veteran couples. Study 1 presents efficacy data for a subsample of military couples from a nationwide RCT testing two online programs for couples, OurRelationship and ePREP. Study 2 describes feasibility and preliminary efficacy data from an ongoing pilot study implementing OurRelationship within the San Diego Veteran Affairs (VA) Healthcare System.

Method and Results:
Study 1: Couples (n = 90) in which one or both partners were active duty (11%) or veterans (89%) were selected from a larger RCT (N = 742 couples), in which couples were randomized to one of the online intervention programs or to a waitlist control group. No differences were found between the military and civilian couples across individual or relationship functioning variables at pre-treatment. Of the military couples assigned to the intervention programs, 57% completed the interventions and over 90% rated the program positively. Relationship functioning domains significantly improved, with small to medium sized effects. Intimate partner violence and individual functioning did not significantly improve relative to waitlist control, suggesting a potential need for veteran-specific adaptations.
Study 2: Couples (target n = 20) including a veteran enrolled in San Diego VA healthcare will be enrolled in an open pilot trial of OurRelationship implemented in a VA setting. Initial implementation results have addressed data security of personally identifiable information, veteran access to technology, and identifying the target population and recruitment strategies. Pilot data collection is commencing, and findings regarding recruitment, retention, program impacts, and stakeholder feedback will be presented.

Conclusions: Online couple programs show promise for increasing veterans’ access to interventions that improve relationship functioning. This ongoing research will help determine whether OurRelationship is effective when delivered to veterans in a VA setting, and whether program adaptations specific to veterans’ experiences are needed.

Symposium topic: Tech for Two: Utilizing Technology to Improve Access to Effective Couples’ Interventions.