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Following Bariatric Surgery: an Exploration of the Couples’ Experience

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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.

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Compliance with Ethical Standards

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki Declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

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The authors declare that they have no competing interests.

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Correspondence to Mary Lisa Pories.

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Pories, M.L., Hodgson, J., Rose, M.A. et al. Following Bariatric Surgery: an Exploration of the Couples’ Experience. OBES SURG 26, 54–60 (2016).

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