Research Studies

All of the products and programs from PREPARE/ENRICH are built on a strong research foundation. In addition, we conduct and support research to evaluate the impact of our programs and seek ways to improve their effectiveness and impact. Research is ongoing to discover new ideas and ways of improving marriage.

35 Years Graphic Validation

Overall, PREPARE/ENRICH is an excellent tool with substantial evidence supporting its reliability and validity

Recently, PREPARE/ENRICH was reviewed in the Twentieth Edition of the Mental Measurements Yearbook (2017), which is the most widely acclaimed reference series in education and psychology, designed to assist professionals in selecting and using standardised assessments.

PREPARE/ENRICH continues to provide one of the most reliable and insightful relationship assessment tools, scientifically validated for over 35 years and well regarded by professionals.

The feedback was exceptional and we are very proud to be delivering an outstanding assessment tool:

  • "PREPARE/ENRICH is psychometrically sound with a proven history of performing well in helping couples to identify areas of growth and areas of challenge."
  • "The assessment and feedback report can be easily and effectively used by facilitators.”
  • “The assessment is extremely comprehensive in scope and can be crafted to meet the needs and conditions of individual couples.”
  • “Overall, PREPARE/ENRICH is an excellent tool with substantial evidence supporting its reliability and validity of its scores and their uses. It can be used effectively to improve couple relationships.”

At PREPARE/ENRICH, we understand the positive impact that marriage has on individuals, children, families, and communities—physically, socially, emotionally, and economically.

We understand the need for valid, effective, and accessible tools that help clergy, counselors, and communities provide the support needed to make marriages last a lifetime. We understand that it can be hard to know whether you are using the right tools, in a growing field of options.


Couple Relationship Education in Australia

The most widely used inventories in Australia are PREmarital Preparation and Relationship Enhancement (PREPARE; Olsen, Fournier, & Druckman, 1996), and the Facilitating Open Couple Communication Understanding and Study (FOCCUS; Markey & Micheletto, 1997). In both PREPARE and FOCCUS, each partner completes a self-report inventory assessing a range of relationship dimensions and isprovided with feedback about that assessment (Larson, Newell, Topham, & Nichols, 2002). In current practice, the feedback sometimes is supplemented with some skill training, though the skill training is not a central part of the inventory approach (Simons & Parker).

There are several important potential strengths in the inventory-based approach to relationship education. First, FOCCUS and PREPARE have both been shown to predict the trajectory of relationship satisfaction in the early years of marriage (Fowers & Olsen, 1986; Larson & Olsen, 1989; Williams & Jurich, 1995). Thus, each inventory assesses factors relevant to relationship outcomes. Second, the inventories provide the opportunity for couples to assess their personal risk and resilience profiles. Third, there is structured training on how to use these inventories (e.g., Olsen, Dyer, & Dyer, 1997). The structured approach to use of the inventories, and the training available, probably at least partially explains the widespread adoption of inventory-based relationship education.

Reference: Halford, W.K., and Simons, M., 2005: Couple Relationship Education in Australia. Family Process, Vol. 44, No. 2, 2005


The value of PREPARE/ENRICH has been demonstrated through research. In 1986 Blaine Fowers and David Olson published a study (Journal of Marital and Family Therapy, 1986, Vol. 12, No. 4, 403-413) designed to determine the predictive validity of PREPARE. This study assessed how helpful PREPARE scores would be in predicting marital success. A 3-year follow-up study was conducted with 164 couples who took PREPARE during their engagement. The authors reported that “…satisfied couples scored significantly higher on the inventory than dissatisfied couples, divorced couples, and couples who cancelled their marriage…Using discriminant analysis, it was found that the PREPARE scores from 3 months before marriage could predict with 80-90% accuracy which couples were separated and divorced from those that were happily married. These findings not only demonstrate the predictive validity of PREPARE, but its potential utility in identifying high-risk couples who could benefit from more intensive premarital counselling.” This finding was repeated in a second study by Andrea Larsen and David Olson published in 1989 (Journal of Marital and Family Therapy, 1989, Vol. 15, No. 3, 311-322). 

In 2000 Luke Knutson and David Olson evaluated the effectiveness of the PREPARE/ENRICH Program (Version 2000) with 100 premarital couples in three groups: the PREPARE Program group (who received an average of four feedback sessions), the PREPARE No Feedback group (who received feedback after the post-test), and the Control group (who received both PREPARE and feedback after the post-test). The PREPARE Program group showed significant positive change, from pre-test to post-test, on marriage expectations, communication, financial management, children and parenting, family and friends, couple closeness, couple flexibility and spiritual beliefs. The PREPARE No Feedback group also showed some significant changes but no significant changes occurred in the Control group.

PREPARE/ENRICH: Overview and New Discoveries about
Couples  (click here)

Olson, Olson-Sigg & Larson

This article highlights a variety of new discoveries made about premarital and married couples from data collected using the PREPARE-ENRICH assessment. A brief overview of the Customized Version is provided and evidence about its effectiveness when used with a couple or in a group setting. The Customized Version contains a variety of new scales that are producing compelling relationship findings in the areas of personality, cohabitation, stress, commitment, forgiveness, and spiritual beliefs. The authors provide practical information regarding the application of the program in faith group settings and in pastoral counselling.

PREPARE/ENRICH Program: Customised Version (2009) (click here)

The Customized Version of PREPARE/ENRICH is the fifth version and the distinctive features are that it is online and it is tailor made to each couple. It is called the PREPARE/ENRICH Program because it contains both a couple assessment and couple skill building exercises. The program has 10 core scales and over 100 other scales that tap into important aspects of the couple relationship. The goal of the program is to help increase a couples' awareness of their relationship strengths and growth areas and to provide them with skills so that they can improve their relationship.

Reference: Olson, D.H., Larson, P.J., Olson, A.K. (2009) PREPARE/ENRICH Program: Customized Version. Minneapolis, Minnesota, Life Innovations, Inc.

PREPARE/ENRICH Programs: A Case Study (click here)

Olson-Sigg & Olson

The chapter details the two components of PREPARE/ENRICH couple program: the online assessment and the relationship skill-building exercises. While this program is used with dating, engaged, and married couples, the clinical case study is that of a premarital couple. The program is designed so that it can be integrated into most other theoretical and therapeutic models for working with couples.

PREPARE/ENRICH Programs: Research on Couple Types: A Case Study (click here)

This study identified five distinct types of married couples from a sample of 6,267 couples, using the marital inventory ENRICH. Profiles were derived using a three-stage cluster analytic procedure, including an exploratory cluster analysis, a replication of the exploratory results, and a cross-validation. The five-cluster solution was robust. Vitalized couples (12%) reported high relationship quality on all dimensions. Harmonious couples (11%) had relatively high relationship quality. Traditional couples (16%) had scores that were slightly above average with markedly higher scores on parenting and religious scales. Conflicted couples (25%) were characterized by moderately low scores on all but the roles scale. The Devitalized couples (36%) had the lowest scores on every ENRICH dimension.

Reference: The Family Journal, 1993, Vol. 1, No. 3, 196-207
David H. Olson & Blaine J. Fowers (1993)

Research on Effectiveness of the PREPARE/ENRICH Program

PREPARE Outcome Study: Individual vs. Group Feedback - 2011  (click here)

Futris & colleagues

To further advance our understanding of the efficacy of inventory-based premarital education programs, this study examined whether the effects of the PREPARE program varied by delivery format. Following participation in the program, engaged couples exhibited positive gains in knowledge, felt more confident in their relationship, engaged in more positive conflict management behaviors, and felt more satisfied with their relationship. No differences were found between participants who completed a series of conjoint sessions versus a 1-day group workshop. These findings highlight the robustness of premarital education and suggest group workshops can have similar effectiveness as the more prevalent conjoint sessions.


PREPARE Outcome Study: Feedback vs Only Assessment

Complete Study published in Marriage & Family Journal - 2003 (click here)

Luke Knutson & David H. Olson

This study evaluated the effectiveness of the PREPARE Program (Version 2000) for couples receiving premarital counselling by professionals and clergy trained in the standard 1-day training workshop. There were 153 premarital couples in three groups: the PREPARE Program group (59 couples who received an average of four feedback sessions), the PREPARE No Feedback group (46 couples who received feedback after the post-test), and the Waiting List Control Group (48 couples who received PREPARE and feedback after the post-test).

Results found that only the PREPARE Program group significantly increased their couple satisfaction, while there was no change in the PREPARE No Feedback or the Waiting List Control groups. Couples in the PREPARE Program improved in 10 out of 13 relationship categories, while those in the PREPARE No Feedback group increased in 4 of the 13 categories.

Significant changes were made in the couple types only in the PREPARE Program group, demonstrating a significant impact on 90% of these couples. In the PREPARE Program group, the number of Vitalized couples (the most satisfied type) increased by 52% from pre to post-test. Over half (55%) of the three other couple types (Harmonious, Traditional, and Conflicted) increased one or more levels. For the highest risk couples, the Conflicted types, 83% moved to a more positive couple type.

Reference: Marriage & Family: 2003, Vol.6, No. 4, 529-546.

PREPARE/ENRICH Group Program Highly Rated - 2009 (click here)


In a comprehensive review of eight Marriage Preparation Education Programs (MPEP) by Geniel Childs (2009), the PREPARE/ENRICH Group Program ranked first in Content with a score of 92% and the Instruction Process score was 90%.

The overall Content Score of 92% was based on four criteria: theory and research (97%), context (82%), practice (96%), and premarital predictors (88%). The overall Instruction Process score of 90% was based on two criteria and the scores for those two areas for Teaching Plans was 88% and for Presentation was 92%.

PREPARE/ENRICH and Couple Communication Program - 2007 (click here)

David H. Olson & Sherod Miller

This longitudinal study followed up on 25 married couples one to five years after marriage who had taken both the PREPARE/ENRICH and the Couple Communication programs before marriage. Overall, the results demonstrated the couples were very satisfied with both programs and also found the combination of two programs very valuable. The couples significantly improved their communication, conflict resolution skills and marital satisfaction. Couples reported they found it helpful to their marriage to coach other couples on communication skills.

PREPARE/ENRICH Program Has Significant Impact Using Marriage Mentors with Couples - 2011 (click here)

David H. Olson

The PREPARE-ENRICH program was offered by marriage mentors to 1,070 low income couples over a four year period, 62% were married and 38% were premarital couples. The mentors worked one hour per week for 8 weeks with the couples. At pre-test, 20% of the couples were Vitalized (most happy), 19% were Conventional, 31% were Conflicted and 25% were Devitalized (most unhappy). At post-test, the number of Devitalized dropped from 25% to 5%, Conflicted dropped from 31% to 15%, and Vitalized increased from 20% to 47%. 

In summary, the Program had a very significant impact in improving the couples’ relationship.

Useful LinksFor information about research and other recommended sources of material (click here): 


Sign-up to the PREPARE/ENRICH Newsletter (click here)

Refer to the PREPARE/ENRICH Archive of Newsletters