A new Bariatric Surgery Experienced study (BASE) is set to help researchers in New Zealand visualize the surgical experience from the patient’s points of view, gain a better understanding of the impact of the procedure on the patients’ daily lives, and improve follow-up programs that could lead to better success rates.
The Massey University BASE study will recruit adult women (older than 18 years old) who are preparing to undergo or have recently undergone sleeve gastrectomy or Roux-en Y gastric bypass surgery. Participants must reside in New Zealand.
Currently, one-third of New Zealanders are obese and the nation is poised to become one of the fattest countries worldwide. With obesity close to becoming a national public health issue, researchers believe health authorities need to address the condition’s financial, emotional and physical consequences.
In 2014, 889 New Zealanders needed bariatric surgery. In the same year, the government earmarked $10 million for 480 more bariatric surgeries to take place in the following four years. But despite the increase in surgeries, little academic research exists.
The study, led by student Sara Lake of Massy’s Human Nutrition program, said surgery patients should understand that bariatric surgery is “not a simple way out”; it and requires dramatic lifestyle changes before surgery. A prescribed diet should be followed, supplements should be taken, participants should establish and stick to an exercise program, and specific preparations should be made for a life after substantial amounts of weight are shed.
“Failure to cope with these sustained changes can lead to future health problems or even weight regain,” Lake said in a press release. “If someone has tried repeatedly to lose weight, there is a high possibility that bariatric surgery will help them finally succeed. The surgery may also be their best opportunity to avoid or resolve the life-threatening co-morbidities of obesity which include cardiovascular disease, diabetes and arthritis.”
Lake admits that the chances for morbidly obese people losing weight permanently through diet and exercise alone is very low, and she hopes to explore the problem and find answers via qualitative methods and a grounded theory.
“This means we don’t start with a hypothesis, or any preconceived idea of what might emerge, but develop theories from what participants tell us, paying particular attention to recurring themes. The primary method is in-depth interviews – a type of investigative technique which can deliver a wealth of information. The aim is to develop directions for future research and uncover information that could inform best-practice guidelines,” Lake said.