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Couple relationships improved through digital intervention

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OU research shows that daily prompts from an app can have a positive impact on couple relationship quality.

The study, which was funded by the OU as part of ongoing research by Jacqui Gabb, OU Professor of Sociology and Intimacy, into couple relationships, sought to understand the impact digital interventions can have in matters of the heart.

Over a three-month period, researchers from the OU and University of Brighton evaluated the relationship app Paired, with data from more than 4,400 users and saw relationship quality improve by 36%. Paired, a new and innovative app that is informed by OU research, is designed to encourage open dialogue between partners, through daily expert tips and conversation starters.

Researchers developed a rigorous measurement of overall relationship quality to analyse the impact of technology on relationship behaviour. They found improvement in the way app users conversed and connected with their partner after three months usage, with benefits improving the longer and more frequently the app was used.

Professor Gabb said: “mHealth is expanding rapidly with more than 200 new health apps coming onto the market each day. We’re all familiar with how technology can help us date and find a partner, but this new research clearly demonstrates that there’s an equally important role for tech once we are in a relationship. Small, daily interactions are the key to happy and healthy relationships and apps are the perfect tool to prompt much-needed relationship care.”

Some of Professor Gabb’s research findings have also been adopted by Relate, the UK’s largest provider of relationship support; they also changed the strategic priorities of Brook, the UK’s only charity to offer clinical and sexual health education and wellbeing services to young people.

View an executive summary of the research

Read more about the impact OU research is having on society

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