University of Georgia Institute for Behavioral Research Center for Family Research
ProSAAM :: Program for Strong African American Marriages
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Brochure | Project Overview | FAQ | Informed Consent | The Spirit of ProSAAM

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Do you have a website?

2. What is the source of your funding?
The John Templeton Foundation. They are interested in research that looks at the intersection of science and religion.

3. What is the eligibility criteria?
An African American adult between the ages of 21 and 60 years of age who has a mate (of any age or any race) who is also willing to participate. The couple must be legally married and living with the mate or planning to marry within the next 12 months. Couples must be willing to pray and have others pray for them as a couple. Couples must be willing to spend three Saturday mornings in an educational program.

4. Are interracial couples eligible?
Yes. Our eligibility criteria states that any African American adult between the ages of 21 and 60 years of age who has a mate (of any age or any race) who is also willing to participate is welcome to take part in the program.

5. Can I view a copy of the DVDs?
Unfortunately no because we are still in the testing phase of the program. However, ProSAAM will be available in the spring of 2007 for those that are interested in reviewing the curriculum and adopting it for their use.

6. Tell me about your curriculum.
The curriculum for the educational program is based on the Prevention and Relationship Enhancement Program (PREP). PREP is one of the most comprehensive and well respected divorce-prevention/marriage enhancing programs in the world. PREP is a skills and principles-building curriculum designed to help partners say what they need to say, get to the heart of problems, and increase their connection with each other. The program has been in existence for over 30 years.

7. What happens if I enroll today?
We will collect contact information for you and your mate and ensure that you meet the eligibility criteria for the program. Once we begin working with couples in your area, you will receive a letter in the mail that will provide detailed information to you and your mate about next steps.

8. Can you come to my church?
Thank you for the invitation to worship with you and your congregation. I will be sure to record the information and we will get back to you about possible dates and times that we would visit your church.

9. What measures, if any, are taken to ensure that my information remains confidential?
First, all interviewers are required to sign a note of confidentiality. Second, you are only referred to by a generic number after we collect your contact information. Third, only the research team has access to your information. Fourth, all of your information is stored in locked rooms or on password-protected computer servers. Fifth, and lastly, we do not look at individual data in the analyses but rather only look at data across individuals at the group-level.

10. “The couples in my church do not need counseling.”
ProSAAM does not offer counseling but rather is an educational program that seeks to enrich couples’ relationships regardless of where they are in their marriage. In addition, we do not work with couples on an individual basis during the program, but rather at the group-level. Therefore, ProSAAM is more like a marriage ministry at a church rather than counseling at a doctor’s office.

11. Who’s in charge of the project?
Dr. Steven Beach is the lead investigator (i.e., principal investigator). He is joined by a team of other investigators (i.e., co-investigators) that include Drs. Frank Fincham of Florida State University, Velma McBride Murry of the University of Georgia, and Lily McNair of Spelman College. We also are fortunate to have the support of three theological advisors: Rev. Dr. Kenneth Board of Pilgrim Baptist Church in Rockford, IL, Rev. Dr. Jerry Alexander of Springfield Baptist Church in Athens, GA, and Elder Terris Thomas of Timothy Baptist Church in Athens, GA.

12. How many couples have your worked with?
Approximately 300 across northeast Georgia, middle Georgia, and metropolitan Atlanta.

13. “Men won’t buy this.”
Men do have some reservations about participating in research and we learned about their concerns in a focus group in November 2005. For men that are unsure about participating, we ask one of our ProSAAM Ambassadors to contact them. ProSAAM Ambassadors are a group of men that are committed to the project and to the importance of strengthening marriages. Often times, after the ambassadors reach the prospective men, the couple decides to enroll.

14. What’s special about the curriculum?
First, the PREP curriculum shortened from a 15 weeks program to a course that meets on three mornings, in hopes of appealing to couples who often times must balance work and family. Second, by including material and activities that recognize how institutional and implicit racism affects and works against the success of African American marriages, the curriculum has been adapted to an African American audience. Third, we recognize that prayer is part of the cultural tradition of many diverse groups and is widely understood to be an important avenue for personal spiritual growth and development. Therefore, by providing skill-based training and encouraging prayer for one’s partner, we believe that praying for the well being of one’s partner can engender feelings of closeness to the partner at the same time that it anchors one’s relationship in a religious framework. In this respect, regularly praying for one's partner tostrengthen marital relationships and increase individual resilience. Lastly, in collaboration with prayer providers in Rockford, Illinois, we will determine if couples’ marital relationships improve when others pray for them by name only.

15. Why have you focused with working with Christian churches?
Thus far, our efforts have focused on a certain segment of churches because we have not yet taken the steps to determine the limits in acceptability of our program for others of different religious backgrounds. We will begin to take these steps before we disseminate the program early next year.

16. What is P.R.A.I.S.E.?
It represents the six ways in which we desire to partner with churches—prayer, recruitment, advertisement, information, sponsorship, and endorsement.

17. What’s the in-home interview?
In-home interviews are conducted four times over the couple of a one year period. Couples are interviewed in their homes at a convenient time for them. Each interview lasts approximately 2.5 hours. Laptop computers and video cameras are used to collect information on health and well-being, daily routines, marital relationship quality, and marital interaction.

18. Why is important to assign couples to different groups?
The purpose of ProSAAM is to test whether or not the educational program works. The program is structured this way to allow us to find out if adding components increases the ability of the ProSAAM program increases its effectiveness.

19. What are the three groups?
The three groups are a group that involves no meetings, a second group that involves meetings, and a third group that involves meetings and the information is presented in a religious framework.

20. Who are your facilitators?
They are a group of married African American adults that are well-respected members of their community. The mean years of marriage among the facilitators is 15 years.

21. What will you do with the data?
The information provided by each individual couple is kept very confidential. After all the couples have been interviewed, all of the information is grouped together and analyses are conducted for the whole sample. Ultimately, the information from this study about couples will be used to inform service agencies, policy makers, and other marriage scholars and those interested in relationship enhancement programs that are uniquely designed for the African American community.

22. Can I get a copy of the data?
Unfortunately, no. We adhere to strict guidelines from the university’s Institutional Review Board that ensures that confidentiality is maintained to protect study participants. We would be happy though to provide you with published material that describes our findings when they become available.

23. What changes have you seen in couples?
We have conducted preliminary analyses on the first group of 40 couples. Early results suggest that after participating in ProSAAM couples report handling their disagreements differently and better. This speaks well of the program in that these data were collected shortly after the conclusion of their educational program sessions. We are collecting additional data to find out if these effects remain true at one year.

24. What kind of media attention have you received?
A press release was featured in a variety of newspaper outlets in September 2005. Jet Magazine contacted us regarding their interested in printing an article once findings were available. We also recently release a second article to newspaper outlets in counties surrounding Milledgeville and Greensboro in July 2006 and Atlanta in September 2006. We have also appeared on several radio stations in the metropolitan area.

25. How many additional couples do you need?
We desire to recruit an additional 200 couples to account for those couples that we will never be able to contact.

26. What kind of services do you offer for the educational program?
Child care, transportation, and food (breakfast and lunch).

27. Where will the sessions be held?
For enrolled couples that are randomly selected to participate in the educational program, they will receive information about location at their first in-home interview. We make an effort to ensure that sites are centrally located for the population that we are working with.

28. “I am not available on Saturdays.”
I thank you for your interest in the program but it appears that you may not be eligible to participate in ProSAAM. Our eligibility criteria states: Couples must be willing to spend three Saturday mornings in an educational program.

29. “Your program states that it is for African American couples, but there is White couple depicted on the front of your book. Why?”
We often get many questions about the couple that appears on the outside of the book. We considered many options for the educational program, but ultimately decided on this book because it was easier to read than other books we reviewed (including a few that were geared towards African American couples). Our objective was to present a program that works well for today’s working couples. You will note that the book is divided into twelve short sections or hours complete with examples, exercises, and text that is easy to comprehend.

30. Who authored “12 Hours to a Great Marriage?”
Howard Markman, Scott Stanley, Susan Blumberg, Natalie Jenkins, and Carol Whiteley.

31. What is your phone number?

32. I want to see a copy of the prayers.
Unfortunately no because we are still in the testing phase of the program. However, ProSAAM will be available in the spring of 2007.

33. Has anyone complained about the program?
We have not received any formal complaints about the program. Any mild concerns have been addressed by offering additional information to couples and effectively solved.

34. Has anyone dropped out of the program?
Approximately 100 couples have started but not been able to complete the program for various reasons their life situation (e.g., couple separated, too busy to participate, mate will, mate unwilling to take part).

35. When will the program the ready and how can I get a copy?
You may go to the PREP, Inc. website at around late spring 2007.