Following Bariatric Surgery: an Exploration of the Couples’ Experience
Bariatric surgery is the most effective intervention for morbid obesity, resulting in substantial weight loss and the resolution of co-morbid conditions. It is not clear what impact bariatric surgery and the subsequent life-style changes have on patients’ couple relationships. The purpose of this phenomenological study was to examine the lived experience of couples after one member of the couple underwent bariatric surgery.
This study utilized a phenomenological approach of semi-structured interviews of the couples jointly (n = 10 couples). Colaizzi’s method of analysis for phenomenological studies was utilized to elucidate the central themes and distill the essence of the participants’ experience.
All of the couples felt their post-operative success was due to a joint effort on both members of the couples’ part. The participant couples described the following five emerging thematic experiences: (a) changes in physical health, (b) changes in emotional health, (c) changes in eating habits, (d) greater intimacy in the relationship, and (e) the joint journey.
This research provides greater insight into the experience of the couple than has been previously reported. The use of qualitative research techniques offer new approaches to examine the biopsychosocial outcomes and needs of bariatric surgery patients. Further research is warranted in order to develop culturally appropriate interventions to improve the patient’s surgical and biopsychosocial outcomes.