Exploring individual experiences of preparedness for bariatric surgery

Author/s: Rachael Noble, PhD
Availability: Open Access
Type: Thesis
Year: 2012
Category: Medicine
Institution: University of Leeds

Abstract: Obesity is associated with an increase in morbidity and mortality. Over the past 30 years the rate of obesity has been rising in almost all countries. The number of weight loss surgery procedures has also increased in England in recent years. Research into the psychological impact of weight loss surgery has found positive outcomes (e.g. reduced emotional distress and depression) as well as tensions (e.g. loss of identity and feeling vulnerable). Despite research into preparation for generic surgery, there is a gap in the literature on preparation for weight loss surgery patients. The present study was designed firstly to examine what preparation a UK sample of weight loss surgery patients have received, and secondly to explore the individual experiences of the weight loss surgery journey. Method: A mixed methods approach was used. An online questionnaire developed for this study was completed by 148 participants who have had weight loss surgery. A sample of seven adults were recruited from a weight loss surgery support group and participants were interviewed using a semi-structured interview schedule. Interviews were transcribed and analysed using Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis. Results: Participants reported receiving information on; the different parts of the weight loss surgery process, changes in diet, eating behaviour, and physical changes. Participants reported that information was lacking on relationship and psychological changes. Five master themes and 16 super-ordinate themes emerged following the group analysis of the interviews. Participants reflected on their lead up to surgery and their experience of preparing for surgery. Participants tried to make sense of their relationship with food and their emotional attachment to it. They reflected on their experience of changing relationships and identity post-surgery. Participants highlighted the value of support groups and the internet in preparing them for surgery, particularly communicating with individuals who have had weight loss surgery. Discussion: Preparation for weight loss surgery is an important part of the process. More preparation is needed for the psychological changes, emotional challenges, and adjustments experienced throughout the journey. A group intervention is recommended. This would be efficient and cost effective. It would provide opportunities for social inclusion and peer support.

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