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Surg Obes Relat Dis. 2009 Jan-Feb;5(1):99-102. doi: 10.1016/j.soard.2008.10.001. Epub 2008 Oct 17.

When is the best time to deliver behavioral intervention to bariatric surgery patients: before or after surgery?

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  • 1Department of Psychology, Kent State University, Kent, Ohio, USA.



Many comprehensive bariatric surgery programs have implemented preoperative behavioral interventions for patients presenting with problematic eating behaviors in an effort to enhance postoperative weight loss and improve psychosocial adjustment. However, it is unknown whether these interventions are best delivered pre- or postoperatively. The purpose of this study was to determine when bariatric surgery patients are most receptive to a behavioral intervention, before or after surgery.


A total of 32 pre- and postoperative patients were referred to a 10-week intervention designed to reduce eating behaviors associated with postoperative weight gain (e.g., loss of control while eating, grazing). The sample was 78.1% female and 84.4% white, with an average age of 49.43 +/- 9.13 years and a body mass index of 44.22 +/- 6.48 kg/m(2). Of the 32 patients, 21 were referred preoperatively and 11 were referred postoperatively (5.63 +/- 2.91 months after surgery). These patients were tracked prospectively to determine whether pre- or postoperative patients were more likely to attend and complete the behavioral intervention.


Compared with the preoperative patients, the postoperative patients were more likely to follow-up with their referral and initiate treatment [chi(2)(1) = 10.06, P = .002]. Of the postoperative patients, 100% attended the first intervention session compared with only 43% of preoperative patients. The postoperative patients also attended more intervention sessions [t(18) = 2.51, P = .02] and were more likely to complete the intervention [chi(2)(1) = 7.21, P = .007]. Only 14% of the preoperative referral patients completed the program compared with 91% of the postoperative patients.


Comprehensive bariatric surgery programs ought to consider balancing the needs of the preoperative patients presenting with maladaptive eating behavior with the likelihood of them participating in a behavioral intervention before surgery.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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