Can Media Campaigns Increase Participation in Premarital Education? The Case of the Utah Healthy Marriages Initiative


social marketing, media campaign, premarital education


An increase in public funding for marriage and relationship education is boosting the availability of these services for lower-income couples. This study examines whether a 5-year media campaign embedded in the Utah Healthy Marriages Initiative increased awareness of the Initiative and participation in premarital education. A baseline survey of young adults in Utah, ages 18 to 29, at the launch of the 5-year multimedia campaign was conducted in 2008 and then repeated with an independent cohort in 2013 to assess population change over time. Participants married less than 5 years in 2013 were two to three times more likely to be aware of StrongerMarriage.org and the services it promotes compared with their peers in 2008. In addition, the percentage of persons who participated in premarital education increased from 32% to 39%, but this apparent increase faded away when controls for age and education were included. However, further tests revealed a near significant year-by-education interaction and a trend for year-by-ethnicity interaction, with trends for greater odds of participation only among less-educated participants and non–European American participants, suggesting the campaign's effectiveness in reaching more at-risk populations.

Original Publication Citation

Hawkins, A. J., Higginbotham, B. J., and Hatch, D. J. (2016). Can media campaigns increase participation in marriage and relationship education? The case of the Utah Healthy Marriages Initiative. Journal of Couple & Relationship Therapy, 15, 19-35.

Document Type

Peer-Reviewed Article

Publication Date



Journal of Couple & Relationship Therapy




Family, Home, and Social Sciences


Family Life

University Standing at Time of Publication

Full Professor