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JAMA Surg. 2018 Nov 28:e184375. doi: 10.1001/jamasurg.2018.4375. [Epub ahead of print]

Patient Preferences for Bariatric Surgery: Findings From a Survey Using Discrete Choice Experiment Methodology.

Author information

Department of Health Management and Policy, Saint Louis University College for Public Health and Social Justice, St Louis, Missouri.
Department of Surgery, University of Michigan School of Medicine, Ann Arbor, Michigan.
Department of Management and Organizations, University of Michigan Ross School of Business, Ann Arbor, Michigan.
Child Health Evaluation and Research Center, University of Michigan School of Medicine, Ann Arbor.
Ann and Robert H. Lurie Children's Hospital, Chicago, Illinois.
Department of Surgery, Dartmouth Geisel School of Medicine, Hanover, New Hampshire.
Department of Pediatrics and Communicable Diseases, University of Michigan School of Medicine, Ann Arbor.
Department of Health Management and Policy, University of Michigan School of Public Health, Ann Arbor.



Surgical options for weight loss vary considerably in risks and benefits, but the relative importance of procedure-associated characteristics in patient decision making is largely unknown.


To identify patient preferences for risks, benefits, and other attributes of treatment options available to individuals who are candidates for bariatric surgery.

Design, Setting, and Participants:

This discrete choice experiment of weight loss procedures was performed as an internet-based survey administered to patients recruited from bariatric surgery information sessions in the State of Michigan. Each procedure was described by the following set of attributes: (1) treatment method, (2) recovery and reversibility, (3) time that treatment has been available, (4) expected weight loss, (5) effect on other medical conditions, (6) risk of complication, (7) adverse effects, (8) changes to diet, and (9) out-of-pocket costs. Participants chose between surgical profiles by comparing attributes. Survey data were collected from May 1, 2015, through January 30, 2016, and analyzed from February 1 to June 30, 2016.

Main Outcomes and Measures:

Estimated relative value of risks and benefits for leading weight-loss surgical options and marginal willingness to pay for procedure attributes. A latent class analysis identified respondent subgroups.


Among the 815 respondents (79.9% women; mean [SD] age, 44.5 [12.0] years), profiles of hypothetical procedures that included resolution of medical conditions (coefficient for full resolution, 0.229 [95% CI, 0.177 to 0.280; P < .001]; coefficient for no resolution, -0.207 [95% CI, -0.254 to -0.159; P < .001]), higher total weight loss (coefficient for each additional 20% loss, 0.185 [95% CI, 0.166 to 0.205; P < .001]), and lower out-of-pocket costs (coefficient for each additional $1000, -0.034 [95% CI, -0.042 to -0.025; P < .001]) were most likely to be selected. Younger respondents were more likely than older respondents to choose treatments with higher weight loss (coefficient for loss of 80% excess weight 0.543 [95% CI, 0.435-0.651] vs 0.397 [95% CI, 0.315-0.482]) and were more sensitive to out-of-pocket costs (coefficient for $100 out-of-pocket costs, 0.346 [95% CI, 0.221-0.470] vs 0.262 [95% CI, 0.174 to 0.350]; coefficient for $15 000 in out-of-pocket costs, -0.768 [95% CI, -0.938 to -0.598] vs -0.384 [95% CI, -0.500 to -0.268]). Marginal willingness to pay indicated respondents would pay $5470 for losing each additional 20% of excess body weight and $12 843 for resolution of existing medical conditions, the most desired procedure attributes. Latent class analysis identified the following 3 unobserved subgroups: cost-sensitive (most concerned with costs); benefit-focused (most concerned with excess weight loss and resolution of medical conditions); and procedure-focused (most concerned with how the treatment itself worked, including recovery and reversibility).

Conclusions and Relevance:

Candidates for bariatric surgery identified costs, expected weight loss, and resolution of medical conditions as the most important characteristics of weight loss surgery decisions. Other information, such as risk of complications and adverse effects, were important to patients but less so.


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