Hershey, Pennsylvania – According to the World Health Organization, 4 million people die annually from obesity-related causes. Studies have shown that bariatric surgery is an effective life-saving intervention for obese patients, yet the vast majority of those eligible for this procedure never progress to surgery.
A team of researchers from Penn State College of Medicine has identified variables that may influence a patient’s likelihood of undergoing bariatric surgery and help explain why it is not used adequately by some professionals. The study showed that psychological factors, along with social determinants of health – such as race, food security and level of education – play an important role in whether a patient pursues surgical treatment of obesity.
The study analyzed data from preoperative psychological evaluations of 1,234 adult bariatric surgery patients, who underwent surgery from 2017 through early 2020. Patients answered questions about themselves, quality of life, medical history, mental health and eating habits through report questionnaires. Self. The majority of patients were female (946) and white (862). Of the study participants, 23% received benefits through the federal government’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).
Researchers have found that blacks, Hispanics, and other minorities are less likely to undergo surgery than white patients. In addition to racial differences, educational and economic factors influenced the likelihood of patients undergoing surgery. Furthermore, educational and economic factors can influence nutrition and dietary behaviors that contribute to obesity and overall wellness. The researchers found that patients who received SNAP and those with lower levels of education were less likely to undergo surgery compared to patients who did not receive SNAP and those who had a college education.
In addition to identifying social determinants of health that may contribute to a patient’s likelihood of undergoing surgery, researchers also examined psychological factors. They said depression and anxiety are common among candidates for bariatric surgery. The results show that patients with higher levels of depression or anxiety were less likely to have surgery. Based on these findings, the researchers recommend that depression and anxiety should be closely monitored in postoperative patients to reduce the risks of self-harm and suicide.
According to the researchers, the findings give a greater understanding of the obstacles some patients face in undergoing bariatric surgery. They said there is an urgent need from a public health perspective to identify ways to overcome barriers to bariatric surgery for all those eligible for surgery as well as those affected by these important mental health concerns and social determinants of health.
“Future studies are needed to develop interventions to overcome treatment barriers and gaps in progression to surgery, as well as more upstream factors, such as universal patient referral,” said researcher Melissa Butt, PhD, PhD, in public health.
Jocelyn Simers Vernon Chinchley, Ph.D. in Statistics; Dr.. Andrea Rigby Dr. Ann Rogers of Penn State College of Medicine contributed to this research.
The researchers declare that there are no conflicts of interest or specific funding for this research.
The study appeared in the Department of Obesity Surgery and Related Diseases.