Lived experiences and unique psychosocial impacts following bariatric surgery in a publicly funded Australian tertiary hospital: a qualitative study

Charlene Wright, Jaimon T. Kelly, Rebecca Healy, Jane Musial, Katrina L. Campbell, Kyra Hamilton*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

Abstract

Objective: Gain an understanding of the lived experiences and unique psychosocial impacts following bariatric surgery. Methods: Qualitative study design, consisting of semi-structured interviews. Based on thematic analysis principles, transcripts were inductively coded. Results: Fifteen participants were included; predominantly female (n = 9, 60%) and underwent Roux-en-Y gastric bypass (n =12, 80%), with a mean age of 57 years. Five themes were generated including ‘Key Motivators to Undergo Bariatric Surgery’, “Positive Changes”, “Facing the Challenges”, “Tackling Social Relationships”, and “Skills to Move Forward”. There were common health-related motivators to undergo surgery, yet psychosocial motivators were not reported. Patients reported positive changes post-operatively; though not exclusively. Challenges included being surprised by the rapid weight loss, a delayed identification of their new body, and new body image concerns. Participants reported using different sources of support for the different types of support needs and were required to navigate negative confrontations and perceived stigma. Skills to move forward included implementing strategies and behaviour change techniques along with adjusting their lifestyle, routine, and mindset. Conclusion: Experiences and psychosocial challenges post-operatively are multifaceted. Tailoring services to address these challenges in both pre- and post-operative healthcare settings is recommended. KEY POINTS: What is already known about this topic: Long-term psychological and dietary support is important to help individuals navigate the challenges and maintain positive changes achieved after bariatric surgery. Lived experiences of bariatric surgery are characterised by normality, control, and ambivalence. To date, no qualitative study has been conducted in Australia to report the lived experience and unique psychosocial impacts following bariatric surgery. What this topic adds: Health-related motivators to undergo bariatric surgery were common; however, there were no reports of psychosocial motivators to undergo surgery (i.e., improved body image). Patients electing bariatric surgery may not be fully prepared for the psychosocial challenges rapid weight loss presents. Different sources of support were utilized by patients for different types of social support, with the prominent use of Online Health Communities.

Original languageEnglish
Article number2046445
JournalAustralian Journal of Psychology
Volume74
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2022
Externally publishedYes

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