The Protecting Strong African American Families Program: a Randomized Controlled Trial with Rural African American Couples

  • Allen W. Barton
  • Steven R. H. Beach
  • Ashley C. Wells
  • Justin B. Ingels
  • Phaedra S. Corso
  • Megan C. Sperr
  • Tracy N. Anderson
  • Gene H. Brody


This study presents results from a randomized controlled trial of the Protecting Strong African American Families (ProSAAF) program, a family-centered intervention designed to promote strong couple, coparenting, and parent-child relationships in two-parent African American families. A total of 346 African American couples with an early adolescent child participated; all families lived in rural, low-income communities in the southern USA. Intent-to-treat growth curve analyses involving three waves and spanning 17 months indicated that ProSAAF participants, compared with control participants, reported greater improvements in relationship communication, confidence, satisfaction, partner support, coparenting, and parenting. More than 80% of the couples attended all six of the in-home, facilitator-led sessions; costs to implement the program averaged $1739 per family. The findings inform the ongoing debate surrounding prevention programs for low-income and ethnic minority couples.


African American Costs Growth curve analysis Low-income couples Relationship education Prevention 



The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Institute of Health and Human Development, the National Institute on Drug Abuse, or the National Institutes of Health. The authors thank Eileen Neubaum-Carlan for her editorial assistance in the preparation of this article. We also thank the families for their participation in this research.


This research was supported by Award Number R01 HD069439 from the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development and Award Number P30 DA027827 from the National Institute on Drug Abuse.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Research Involving Human Participants

All procedures were approved by the Institutional Review Board of the university at which the research was conducted and complied with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments.

Informed Consent

Informed consent was obtained from all couples prior to data collection and program participation.

Supplementary material

11121_2018_895_MOESM1_ESM.docx (88 kb)
ESM 1 (DOCX 88 kb)


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Copyright information

© Society for Prevention Research 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Allen W. Barton
    • 1
  • Steven R. H. Beach
    • 1
  • Ashley C. Wells
    • 1
  • Justin B. Ingels
    • 2
  • Phaedra S. Corso
    • 2
  • Megan C. Sperr
    • 1
  • Tracy N. Anderson
    • 1
  • Gene H. Brody
    • 1
  1. 1.Center for Family ResearchUniversity of GeorgiaAthensUSA
  2. 2.Department of Health Policy and ManagementUniversity of GeorgiaAthensUSA

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