JAMA Surgery Study Examines Patient Expectations For Weight Loss Surgery
Over the past five to 10 years, bariatric surgery has become progressively more commonplace. We all know a friend or family member who has had one. Most hospitals perform them. In fact, it’s the most common general surgery procedure that’s done, largely because obesity is one of our county’s most pressing health concerns.
A new study from Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and Boston Medical Center published online in March in JAMA Surgery looks at the attitudes and expectations of patients considering gastric bypass and lap band surgery. The research suggests that patients tend to have unrealistically high expectations for weight loss after surgery and are willing to accept a good deal risk to achieve those expectations.
“Despite multiple patient information sessions and consultations with nurses, dieticians, bariatricians, and surgeons, patients tend to hear what they want to hear. At BIDMC we even ask our patients to take a multiple choice test to document their understanding of band and bypass operation,” said senior author Daniel Jones, MD, BIDMC’s Chief of Minimally Invasive Surgery.
Jones says this emphasizes the fact that the multidisciplinary team can always do a better job of educating patients who are considering these treatment options.
“In the context of weight loss surgery, some of these unrealistic expectations may be because patients and health providers may focus on the best case scenario in the short-term rather than the reality of how much weight loss is actually maintained over the long-term after weight loss surgery,” said lead author Christina Wee, MD, MPH, Associate Section Chief for Research in the Division of General Medicine and Primary Care at BIDMC. “It’s very important that patients are aware of the actual benefits so that they can make a truly informed decision about whether they should take the risk of undergoing treatment.”
The study found that most of the patients interviewed said they would be disappointed with a 20 percent weight loss over the long-term, an outcome generally considered to be very good and one that can lead to significant health improvements. And participants said they would accept more risk to reach their perceived ideal weight than to achieve perfect health.
“Patients need to be well educated so they have the best information to make a decision that’s right for them,” said Jones. “We want to equip them with adequate information about the risks, benefits and alternatives so they have the best opportunity to achieve success.”
The full study is available at JAMA Surgery: Expectations for Weight Loss and Willingness to Accept Risk Among Patients Seeking Weight Loss Surgery