In recent years there has been a steep increase in the demand for evidence-based programs. It is important to understand what this criterion includes. The concept of Evidence-Based Practice and Programs (EBP) grew out of the medical field where the concern was to ensure that all drugs and clinical methods had been thoroughly tried and tested before they were used with the general public. The demand for EBP in family life education and social work has grown significantly in recent years, but numerous authors have argued that there are serious limitations in its usefulness and applicability to social services and even within medicine.
There are several levels of classification of evidence-based programs.
Our co-parenting class meet the criteria of Evidence-Informed programs and have collected some preliminary data for quasi-experimental studies. Bill Eddy’s New Ways for Families programs, being offered by OnlineParentingPrograms.com® to families at risk of high levels of conflict during the separation and divorce process, have been evaluated using quasi-experimental designs with the face-to-face version of the class and have shown to be effective both in bringing about positive changes in families and being highly cost-effective. Evaluations of the online version of this program will follow.
There is a growing body of research on the process and outcomes of programs for divorcing and separating parents. Although there is a need for more study, existing research, including that by Bill Eddy, has found that divorce education can result in:
These studies comprise much of the evidence consulted by OnlineParentingPrograms.com® to create programs.
Studies have compared outcomes for participants who have attended in-person programs vs. online. At least one study compared outcomes of an in-person divorceeducation to those achieved by a similar program offered online. The results have shown that program outcomes for college students and for divorcing parents are similar or slightly better for those attending online compared with those taking the class in-person. Other authors have argued that the most important criterion is the preference of the participant for online or in-person.
In addition, a recent review of six online divorce-education programs identified the state of online divorce education programs and listed several recommendations for improvement.
They conclude by saying that “more research is needed to evaluate the quality and effectiveness of online divorce education programs.” Some evaluation results are available for face-to-face programs (see earlier sections of this report), but almost nothing was available for the online programs when this article was written.
The state of the field of online divorce education is that it is in its infancy but is looking very positive.
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Criddle, M. N., Allgood, S. M., & Piercy, K. W. (2003). The relationship between mandatory divorce education and level of post-divorce parental conflict. Journal of Divorce and Remarriage, 39, 99-111.
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Bowers, J. R., Mitchell, E. T., Hardesty, J. L., & Hughes, R., Jr. (2011). A review of online divorce education programs. Family Court Review, 49, 776-787.