Obesity: Few Eligible Patients Discuss Bariatric Surgery With Their Health Care Provider

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Dr. Turchin

Alexander Turchin, MD, MS
Director of Informatics Research
Division of Endocrinology, Diabetes and Hypertension
Associate Professor of Medicine, Harvard Medical School
Brigham and Women’s Hospital

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study?

Response: There is an epidemic of obesity in the U.S.: over 40% of adults are obese. Obesity causes numerous complications, ranging from heart attacks to cancer. Bariatric surgery is one of the most effective ways to treat obesity, but very few patients utilize it; it is unclear why. 

MedicalResearch.com: What are the main findings? Why do you think these conversations are so infrequent?  Are there provider time constraints? Inexperience with counselling or surgical options? Are there ‘talking points’ that could be utilized to facilitate these discussions? 

Response: The main findings of the study were:

a) Very few (< 10%) of potentially eligible patients discuss bariatric surgery with their healthcare providers; and

b) Patients who do discuss bariatric surgery with their healthcare providers, are more likely to both have bariatric surgery and lose weight.

While this was not the subject of this study, we suspect that these conversations could be infrequent because people shy away from bringing up this topic; some providers may feel bariatric surgery is unsafe (it is actually as safe as taking your gallbladder out) or that they are not familiar enough with it to discuss it. It is likely that provider education (e.g. “talking points”) could help mitigate many of these.

MedicalResearch.com: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this work?

Response: Some of the future directions of research could include:

a) Studying who are the patients and providers most / least likely to have these discussions and why; and

b) Whether provider education including, potentially, prompts to have these discussions, would increase eligible patients’ bariatric surgery and / or weight loss.

Disclosures: Astra-Zeneca (research grant); Brio Systems (equity); Edwards (research grant); Eli Lilly (research grant); Novo Nordisk (research grant); Proteomic International (consulting); Sanofi (research grant).


Turchin, Alexander et al. “Patient-Provider Discussions of Bariatric Surgery and Subsequent Weight Changes and Receipt of Bariatric Surgery” Obesity DOI: 10.1002/oby.23183



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Last Updated on June 10, 2021 by Marie Benz MD FAAD