Psychological classification as a communication and management tool in obese patients undergoing bariatric surgery

Robin P. Blackstone, Melisa C. Cortes, L. Buddy Messer, David Engstrom

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


Background: Psychological evaluations are used to ascertain patient suitability for bariatric surgery and to challenge their ability to comply with therapy. The modern paradigm of obesity includes a neurobiologic component working in parallel with the limbic system of appetite and reward. To achieve the goals of surgery, an evaluation of the psychological fitness of the patient is often included in the clinical pathway. We present a psychological classification system with the goal of integrating the psychological factors into patient treatment. Methods: All patients (Roux-en-Y gastric bypass, n = 1814; laparoscopic adjustable gastric banding, n = 589) were evaluated using psychological testing/interview and assigned to groups 14 before surgery. The group 1 patients (n = 788; 32.8%) did not necessitate intervention, group 2 (n = 1110; 46.2%) were requested to attend the support group, groups 3A (n = 394; 16.4%) and 3B (n = 111; 4.6%) required intervention to continue to surgery, and group 4 patients were not recommended for surgery. The main outcome measures, including complication, readmission, and reoperation rates, were analyzed for differences among the psychological groups. Results: After comparing the outcome measures between each classification, no significant differences were found in the major complication rates, readmissions, reoperations, or length of stay among the groups. Groups 3A and 3B were able to achieve similar rates of success, despite their psychosocial impairment at the initial evaluation. Conclusion: The assignment of a psychological classification can facilitate bariatric team recognition of the unique psychological factors that affect the success of surgery. Assessing the patient's psychological composition and addressing potential psychosocial barriers before surgery can increase the positive long-term outcomes and reduce the incidence of complications after bariatric surgery.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)274-281
Number of pages8
JournalSurgery for Obesity and Related Diseases
Issue number3
StatePublished - May 2010
Externally publishedYes


  • Bariatric surgery
  • Gastric bypass
  • Healthcare
  • Medical psychology
  • Morbid obesity
  • Needs assessment
  • Outcome assessment
  • Risk assessment

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery


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