The factors that motivate people to seek surgical solutions for weight loss can, and should, be used to form accurate clinical assessments and sustainable treatment plans. This understanding can help foster patient adherence to follow-up care and improve a sustainable long term outcome for recipients.
A recent Australian study of people who had already received, or were on the waitlist to receive, bariatric surgery, highlighted the top reasons for seeking weight loss surgery. Taking the time to understand a patient’s motivation to seek surgery could make the difference in encouraging them to adhere to their long term follow up care.
So, what are the top 10 factors that motivate people to seek weight loss surgery?
When simple daily activities like walking, dressing, cutting toenails or picking things up from the floor becomes problematic due to excess weight.
“The weight on my belly is putting too much pressure on my back. If I drop something on the floor, it’s been known to stay there for a week before I can bend down and pick it up”.
2. The Emotional Impact of Excess Weight
Rather than health, the embarrassment and emotional impact of carrying excess weight is a big factor, especially for women.
“I couldn’t continue to be the way I was, because of the way I felt about myself and the way others felt about me. I had no secondary health reason to address – that wasn’t the reason at all”.
3. Seeking Improved Health
Some seek surgery to improve their health or to prevent ill-health, especially where there has been a family history of premature death due to health-related issues.
“It was health; simple as that. I had to have it done, or I was dead”.
4. Witnessing the Transformation of a Previous Recipient
One person said it “was like a revelation” when she observed her friend’s reduced appetite after receiving bariatric surgery.
This often acts as a trigger for people to seek surgery to aid weight loss.
“I was sick of being sick and sick of being scrutinized when I walked down the street”.
6. Continued Failed Weight Loss Attempts
Often people had lost weight through other interventions but been unable to sustain the loss in the longer term.
“I was at the end of my tether. Tried all the diets and they didn’t work”.
7. Encouragement from a Significant Other
This can directly or indirectly impact the decision to have surgery.
8. Encouragement from a Health Professional
Discussing having bariatric surgery with a GP and feeling they have their sanction often means that patients feel comfortable continuing with this path of enquiry. Other medical specialists can also influence patients to have bariatric surgery by providing information or initiating a referral. “it all came down to the doctor making a bet with me when I had my annual check-up. He said if you don’t lose any weight this year you’ve got to have weight loss surgery and that’s exactly what happened – I lost the bet and did it”.
9. Encouragement from someone who has had the surgery
Previous recipients of bariatric surgery often influence others to follow the same path, which also suggests that the uptake of surgery may be spreading within social networks and online forums.
10. Attending an Information Session
Attending information sessions conducted by a bariatric surgeon often gives patients the extra comfort that they are making the right decision.
“It was so refreshing the way he was explaining to me that it wasn’t my fault. I’d always felt that is was because I was eating the wrong foods and not doing enough exercise. While that was a contributing factor, it wasn’t really the whole story”
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Reference: Sharman Melanie J., Venn Alison J., Hensher Martin, Wilkinson Stephen, Palmer Andrew J., Williams Danielle, and Ezzy Douglas. Bariatric Surgical Practice and Patient Care. September 2016, 11(3): 104-09. https://doi.org/10.1089/bari.2016.0004