Health Behaviour Change Interventions for Couples: a Systematic Review
E. Arden-Close1, N. McGrath1
1University of Southampton, UK
Background: Partners are a significant influence on health. This review aimed to determine the effectiveness of couple-based interventions in improving health relative to control conditions, and identify factors contributing to their effectiveness. Methods: A systematic review using standardised search methods identified RCTs or quasi-randomised trials for health behaviour change (HBC) in couples with at least one member at risk of chronic illness (excluding HIV), published from 1990-2014. Findings: The 19 included studies targeted cancer prevention, obesity, diet, smoking in pregnancy, mental health postpartum, breastfeeding, physical activity, and cardiovascular risk. Results suggested that adherence was better in couples than individuals, and couple-based interventions were more effective than usual care. Only one RCT demonstrated enhanced benefit for including couples relative to individuals alone, although gender differences were identified. Discussion: Couple-based interventions are at least as effective as individual interventions. RCTs comparing couple-based and individual interventions for HBC are needed to determine any added benefit of targeting the couple.