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Surg Obes Relat Dis. 2011 Jan-Feb;7(1):50-4. doi: 10.1016/j.soard.2010.05.016. Epub 2010 Jun 4.

Changes in depressive symptoms among adolescent bariatric candidates from preoperative psychological evaluation to immediately before surgery.

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Division of Behavioral Medicine and Clinical Psychology, Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center, Cinncinnati, Ohio 45229, USA.



The preoperative psychological evaluation (including the assessment of depressive symptoms) is an important component in determining adolescent bariatric candidacy. The adult bariatric data have suggested that candidates can engage in "impression management" and underreport depressive symptoms during their preoperative evaluation. The present study examined whether adolescent depressive symptoms among bariatric candidates change during preoperative preparation compared with adolescents with extreme obesity who were not seeking surgery.


Adolescent candidates for bariatric surgery (n = 30; 60% female; mean age 16.5 ± 1.4 years) completed the Beck Depression Inventory-II (BDI-II) at initial consultation (time 1, mean body mass index [BMI] 64.5 ± 11.5 kg/m(2)) and again immediately preoperatively (time 2, mean interval 4.7 ± 2.9 months; mean BMI 64.4 ± 10.4 kg/m(2)). Comparators (n = 25; 64% female; mean age 16.2 ± 1.2 years; mean BMI 46.5 ± 4.8 kg/m(2)) were studied at enrollment in a research protocol and again 6 months later (mean interval 6.2 ± 0.4 months; mean BMI 46.8 ± 5.0 kg/m(2)). The height and weight were also taken.


We found a small, but statistically significant, difference in the BDI-II scores at time 1, with bariatric candidates reporting greater depressive symptoms (mean 16.6 ± 12.9) than the comparators (mean 10.6 ± 9.0; P < .05). No difference was seen in the BDI-II scores between the bariatric candidates (mean 14.4 ± 12.1) and the comparators (mean 10.4 ± 8.2) at time 2 (P = .17). The change in BDI-II scores for the bariatric candidates showed a trend toward significance (P = .09).


These results reinforce the position that the adult bariatric literature does not necessarily generalize to the adolescent bariatric population. They further suggest that impression management might not be a significant concern in the assessment of adolescent bariatric candidates. Future research should examine whether preoperative changes in psychological functioning predict the postoperative outcomes.

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