A qualitative exploration of postoperative bariatric patients’ psychosocial support for long-term weight loss and psychological wellbeing

Natascha Maryke Van Zyl, Joanne Lusher, Jane Meyrick

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Background: There is a paucity of research exploring postoperative psychosocial interventions for bariatric surgery patients exceeding 2 years, and therefore, an interdisciplinary postoperative approach is warranted. This qualitative study explored the psychosocial support that bariatric surgery patients feel they need to sustain long-term weight loss and their psychological wellbeing. Methods: Fifteen postoperative patients participated in recorded semi-structured online interviews that were transcribed verbatim and analysed using a reflexive thematic analysis approach. Results: Three themes and six subthemes emerged. Theme 1, Journey to surgery, has two subthemes: Deep roots and Breaking point. Theme 2, The precipice of change, has two sub-themes: Continuity of care and Can’t cut the problem out. Theme 3, Bridging the Gap, has two subthemes: Doing it together and Taking back the reigns. The inconsistencies participants experienced in their pre- and postoperative care led to dissonance, and they felt unprepared for the demands of life postoperatively. Conclusions: Bariatric surgery is a catalyst for physical change, but surgery alone is insufficient to ensure sustained change. Surgical and psychosocial interventions are interdependent rather than mutually exclusive. Patients favour an integrative, personalised, stepped-care approach pre- and postoperatively, with active participation fostering autonomy and access to ongoing support extending into the long-term.
Original languageEnglish
Article number122
Number of pages21
JournalBehavioral Sciences
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 8 Feb 2023


  • qualitative
  • postoperative
  • bariatric
  • surgery
  • psychosocial support
  • long term
  • weight loss
  • wellbeing

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