Obesity Surgery

, Volume 27, Issue 8, pp 1973–1981 | Cite as

Exploring Partners’ Experiences in Living with Patients Who Undergo Bariatric Surgery

  • Anna Wallwork
  • Lynn Tremblay
  • Monica Chi
  • Sanjeev Sockalingam
Original Contributions



Bariatric surgery is effective in assisting persons with severe obesity in achieving significant weight loss and improved health; however, success depends on one’s lifelong commitment to lifestyle modifications post-operatively. Life partners can be essential to the success of bariatric patients as they can serve as a primary resource to patients and healthcare teams. This study aimed to explore bariatric patients’ partner’s experiences in order to help inform clinical practice in bariatric care to better address patient and partner needs.


This study utilized a grounded theory analysis of ten semi-structured interviews of male partners of bariatric surgery patients to form a general explanatory framework of the partner experience.


Participants described three interconnected processes of change that followed after their spouses surgeries: (1) effort put forth to engage in the surgical process with their spouses, (2) adoption of the behavioural changes made by their spouses and (3) adjustment to a “new normal”. For those who engaged in all three processes, optimism for the future and an enriching and synergistic harmonized lifestyle with their spouse was reached.


Bariatric surgery in one partner can impact couples’ dietary behaviours, physical and leisure activities, physical and emotional intimacy and relationship quality as a whole. Pursuing bariatric surgery as a couple is a unique process. This study highlights the necessity to approach bariatric care in a way that targets the whole spousal unit as engaging both members in lifestyle modification may improve the quality of both their health and relationship overall.


Bariatric surgery Obesity Couples Partners Support Qualitative methods 



The authors thank Ji Hyeon Choi, Irene Ma and Jackie Boyce for all their assistance with initial stages of this research.

Compliance with Ethical Standards


This study was funded by a Collaborative Allied Practice Research Internal Grant at the University Health Network, Toronto.

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no conflicts of interest.

Ethical Statement

This study was approved by the University Health Network Research Ethics Board and was performed in accordance with the ethical standards laid down in the 1964 Declaration of Helsinki and its later amendments.

Consent Statement

Informed consent was obtained from all individuals participants included in this study.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Anna Wallwork
    • 1
  • Lynn Tremblay
    • 1
  • Monica Chi
    • 1
  • Sanjeev Sockalingam
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
  1. 1.Bariatric Surgery ProgramToronto Western Hospital, University Health NetworkTorontoCanada
  2. 2.Centre for Mental HealthUniversity Health NetworkTorontoCanada
  3. 3.Department of Psychiatry, Faculty of MedicineUniversity of TorontoTorontoCanada

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