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Knowledge and Perception of Bariatric Surgery Among Primary Care Physicians: a Survey of Family Doctors in Ontario



The primary objective of this study was to identify Ontario family physicians’ knowledge and perceptions of bariatric surgery.


The study population included all physicians practicing family medicine in Ontario who were listed in the Canadian Medical Directory. A self-administered questionnaire consisting of 28 questions was developed and validated using a focus group of seven primary care physicians. The questionnaire was distributed to 1328 physicians.


One hundred sixty-five surveys were completed. 8.8 % of physicians did not have any bariatric surgical patients, and 71.3 % had no more than five in their practice. 70.2 % referred no more than 5 % of their morbidly obese patients for surgery. Only 32.1 % had the appropriate equipment and resources to manage obese patients. 92.5 % of physicians would like to receive more education about bariatric surgery. Physicians with no history of referral (n = 21) were earlier into their practices and had less morbidly obese patients than physicians with previous referrals (n = 141). They were also less likely to discuss bariatric surgery with their patients (30 vs. 79.3 %; p < 0.001) and less likely to feel comfortable explaining procedure options (5.6 vs. 33.9 %; p = 0.013) and providing postoperative care (26.7 vs. 64.2 %; p = 0.005). 55.6 % would refer a family member for surgery, compared to 85.4 % of physicians with previous referrals; p = 0.002.


There appears to be a knowledge gap in understanding the role of bariatric surgery in the treatment of obesity. There is an opportunity to improve education and available resources for primary care physicians surrounding patient selection and follow-up care. This may improve access to treatment.

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Corresponding author

Correspondence to Timothy D. Jackson.

Ethics declarations

The study was approved by the institutional Research Ethics Board.

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no competing interests.

Informed Consent

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.

Human and Animal Rights

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.


No external sources of funding were used for this study or its publication.

Previous Presentation

This work was presented at the Canadian Surgery Forum, September 2015.

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Auspitz, M., Cleghorn, M.C., Azin, A. et al. Knowledge and Perception of Bariatric Surgery Among Primary Care Physicians: a Survey of Family Doctors in Ontario. OBES SURG 26, 2022–2028 (2016).

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