Mach-Gaensslen-funded project produces recommendations regarding mental health of bariatric surgery patients

After bariatric surgery, patients may experience mental health problems, ranging from body image concerns to depression and even suicidal thoughts. This led Katrina Bartellas, MSc, to undertake research funded by MGFC to explore this issue at Memorial University.

A literature review revealed evidence that a significant number of patients experience new-onset mental health problems after bariatric surgery. Katrina went on to explore the perspectives of health care providers by creating an online survey and interviewing providers in person. Her aim was to explore the benefits, barriers, and implications of integrating a psychologist into bariatric surgical teams.

From the survey, she learned that 55% of health care providers had patients who experience new-onset eating disorders after surgery; 55% had patients who ask for a referral to a psychologist or psychiatrist post-operatively. All wanted to learn more about this issue and were willing to “support an initiative aimed at improving the psychological wellbeing of bariatric surgery patients post-operatively.”

A key finding of the study was that improved access to psychological services after bariatric surgery would significantly benefit certain patients. A specialized mental health care professional to identify and manage issues on an ongoing or as-needed basis would also benefit the bariatric surgery team and would expedite psych referrals from family physicians.

Katrina’s research has prompted positive feedback from local surgeons and other members of the bariatric surgery team. There are barriers, of course, mainly costs, which must be weighed against benefits: an area for future research.

Katrina has made her results available to us and they are well worth the read: interesting statistics and compelling direct quotes from the health care providers she interviewed. VIEW PRESENTATION HERE

Katrina thanks the Mach-Gaensslen Foundation for its support and funding, which enabled her to conduct this project and pursue her love of research.

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