Questions about Bariatric Psychological Evaluations

The Importance of Bariatric Psychological Evaluation Before Surgery.

In 2018, the American Society of Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery (ASMBS) conducted research that revealed an estimate of over 200,000 individuals had undergone gastric bypass surgery as a remedy to lose weight. With the numbers of individuals with an average Body Mass Index above 30 slowly rising, obesity is gradually becoming a concern. More people are abandoning the traditional methods of losing weight through exercise and dieting as such methods have seemed futile.

Unlike traditional dieting methods used to lose weight, gastric bypass surgery is a more intensive and permanent procedure that requires lifestyle adjustments. Thus, the National Institute of Health Consensus ruled out that all patients scheduled for bariatric surgery must go through psychological evaluations before the surgery. The psychological evaluation consists of two parts, clinical interviews, and psychological examination.

Clinical Interviews

Under clinical interviews, a psychologist assesses the patient’s mental health, focusing on the patient’s behavior and psychological symptoms. These interviews aim to assess the patient’s knowledge of bariatric surgery, collect information on the patient’s mental status, while simultaneously educating the patient. The psychologist asks about their reasons for seeking gastric bypass surgery, current eating patterns, weight history, social support, dieting history, and the psychological acclimatization in readiness for the procedure.

Psychological Examination

A recent study revealed that individuals with a BMI of more than 40 are more likely to develop depression than the average population. During psychological evaluations, the psychologist analyzes the patient for any psychiatric condition that may hinder the desired outcome following gastric bypass surgery. Patients are assessed for signs of psychosis, anxiety, substance abuse, or depression. Although these factors may not contraindicate the procedure, they play an important role in how the patient will recover post-surgery.

In a psych evaluation, the patient is advised to answer the questions asked honestly. The patient is told that the test results do not determine if they are viable for the surgery or not, as this may lead to intentional distortion of information. Based on the clinical interviews, psychiatric examination, nutritional evaluation, and patient history, the surgeon can draw conclusive information on their patient’s status.

In conclusion, before gastric bypass surgery, psychological evaluation of any patient is vital to understand their emotional status better and evaluate their cause and readiness for the surgical procedure. This will go a long way in determining the success story of gastric bypass surgery and mitigate relapses.


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