Oregon Divorce Studies

Based on Research Conducted at OSLC

Two studies of the factors that contribute to marital and child adjustment following marital separation.

Project Overview

The Oregon Divorce Studies (ODS) have involved two separate studies of the factors that contribute to marital and child adjustment following marital separation (ODS-I and ODS-II). In both studies, we have evaluated adjustment processes several ways: interviews and questionnaires with mothers and children, questionnaires from teachers, and observations of interactions between mothers and children. Mothers also invited an adult support person to participate. The work began with a longitudinal study in 1984 (ODS-I) with a group of 197 separated mothers and their elementary-school-aged children. The findings from ODS-I were used to design a program to help mothers and children adjust to divorce. The resulting preventive intervention program was applied in ODS-II.

ODS-II began in 1992 with a new group of 238 separated mothers and their children. Families were assigned randomly to experimental or control conditions to evaluate the efficacy of an intervention program designed to prevent and reduce problems for mothers and children. Mothers in the experimental group participated in information groups that taught effective parenting practices and strategies for personal development. Families in the control condition participated in the same assessment procedures but did not receive the intervention. Multiple-method assessments were conducted five times over the course of 3 years. We are currently following the experiences of the ODS-II families annually for another four years, during a period when the youngsters are transitioning to middle school and high school.

Funder: National Institute of Mental Health

Principal Investigator

Marion S. Forgatch, Ph.D.

Emeritus Scientist
Oregon Social Learning Center

Primary Research and Clinical Interests

Marion S. Forgatch, PhD, Senior Scientist Emerita, spent much of her career working with the group that eventually became OSLC. She developed and tested programs for families whose children are at-risk for substance abuse and adjustment problems. Her program Parenting through Change (PTC) is recognized as an “Effective Program” in the National Registry of Effective Programs and Practices (NREPP). For the past 10 years, Dr. Forgatch and her team have adapted and applied PTC for use with diverse populations, including non-English speaking Latinos, mothers living in shelters to escape homelessness or violence, parents with severely emotionally disturbed children, and parents whose children have been removed for reasons of abuse/neglect. Currently the program is being adapted for soldiers reintegrating home following service in the wars in Iraq or Afghanistan. She and her team have conducted several large-scale implementation projects including: PMTO statewide in Michigan in Community Mental Health (CMH) Centers for severely emotionally disturbed children; PMTO nationwide in Norway, Iceland, the Netherlands, and PMTO in CMH and Juvenile Justice Centers in Detroit-Wayne County in Michigan. An additional focus for Dr. Forgatch’s work includes the development and application of direct observation measures of family interaction to evaluate changes in family process and intervention sessions to evaluate fidelity in implementing the PMTO model. Forgatch has co-authored numerous journal articles, book chapters, audio and video tapes for parents, and two books. She has received two awards from Society of Prevention Research: Friend of the Early Career Prevention Network in 2003 and the Award for International Collaborative Prevention Research in 2008 and is a fellow of the Association for Psychological Science.