The Role of the Social Worker in the Management of the Bariatric Patient

  • Shaina Eckhouse


The role of the social worker in the management of bariatric surgery patients is to help ensure successful results through preoperative assessment and postoperative evaluations and support. Currently, a social work evaluation is not mandatory, but a licensed social worker can take the place of a psychologist in performing the psychological assessment required of the patient preoperatively. Importantly, a social worker is uniquely qualified to combine a psychological evaluation with a social evaluation of preoperative bariatric patients. By performing both evaluations concurrently, a social worker can counsel a patient on realistic postoperative expectations and how to maintain a healthy outlook long term.


Bariatric social worker Social worker Bariatric surgery Psychosocial evaluation Support group 


  1. 1.
    Michalsky MP, Inge TH. Adolescent bariatric surgery. In: Nguyen NT, et al., editors. The ASMBS textbook of bariatric surgery, vol. 1. New York: Springer Science; 2015. p. 423–32.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    National Association of Social Workers Washington, DC: National Association of Social Workers; 2017 [cited 2017. Available from:
  3. 3.
    Bauchowitz AU, Gonder-Frederick LA, Olbrisch ME, Azarbad L, Ryee MY, Woodson M, et al. Psychosocial evaluation of bariatric surgery candidates: a survey of present practices. Psychosom Med. 2005;67(5):825–32.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  4. 4.
    Frezza EE, Wachtel MS, Gordhamer R. Psychological assessment. In: Nguyen NT, editor. The SAGES manual: a practical guide to bariatric surgery, vol. 1. New York: Springer Science+Business Media, MMC; 2008. p. 43–50.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. 5.
    Sogg S, Lauretti J, West-Smith L. Recommendations for the presurgical psychosocial evaluation of bariatric surgery patients. Surg Obes Relat Dis. 2016;12(4):731–49.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  6. 6.
    Bocchieri LE, Meana M, Fisher BL. A review of psychosocial outcomes of surgery for morbid obesity. J Psychosom Res. 2002;52(3):155–65.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  7. 7.
    Libeton M, Dixon JB, Laurie C, O'Brien PE. Patient motivation for bariatric surgery: characteristics and impact on outcomes. Obes Surg. 2004;14(3):392–8.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  8. 8.
    Wee CC, Davis RB, Huskey KW, Jones DB, Hamel MB. Quality of life among obese patients seeking weight loss surgery: the importance of obesity-related social stigma and functional status. J Gen Intern Med. 2013;28(2):231–8.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  9. 9.
    Wee CC, Davis RB, Jones DB, Apovian CA, Chiodi S, Huskey KW, et al. Sex, race, and the quality of life factors most important to patients’ well-being among those seeking bariatric surgery. Obes Surg. 2016;26(6):1308–16.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  10. 10.
    Wallwork A, Tremblay L, Chi M, Sockalingam S. Exploring partners’ experiences in living with patients who undergo bariatric surgery. Obes Surg. 2017;27(8):1973–81.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  11. 11.
    Sharples AJ, Cheruvu CV. Systematic review and meta-analysis of occupational outcomes after bariatric surgery. Obes Surg. 2017;27(3):774–81.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  12. 12.
    Ivezaj V, Stoeckel LE, Avena NM, Benoit SC, Conason A, Davis JF, et al. Obesity and addiction: can a complication of surgery help us understand the connection? Obes Rev. 2017;18(7):765–75.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  13. 13.
    Heinberg LJ, Ashton K. History of substance abuse relates to improved postbariatric body mass index outcomes. Surg Obes Relat Dis. 2010;6(4):417–21.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  14. 14.
    Parikh M, Johnson JM, Ballem N, American Society for M, Bariatric Surgery Clinical Issues C. ASMBS position statement on alcohol use before and after bariatric surgery. Surg Obes Relat Dis. 2016;12(2):225–30.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  15. 15.
    Haskins IN, Amdur R, Vaziri K. The effect of smoking on bariatric surgical outcomes. Surg Endosc. 2014;28(11):3074–80.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  16. 16.
    Haskins IN, Nowacki AS, Khorgami Z, Schulz K, Heinberg LJ, Schauer PR, et al. Should recent smoking be a contraindication for sleeve gastrectomy? Surg Obes Relat Dis. 2017;13(7):1130–5.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  17. 17.
    Thonney B, Pataky Z, Badel S, Bobbioni-Harsch E, Golay A. The relationship between weight loss and psychosocial functioning among bariatric surgery patients. Am J Surg. 2010;199(2):183–8.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  18. 18.
    Peckmezian T, Hay P. A systematic review and narrative synthesis of interventions for uncomplicated obesity: weight loss, well-being and impact on eating disorders. J Eat Disord. 2017;5:15.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  19. 19.
    Vidot DC, Prado G, De La Cruz-Munoz N, Cuesta M, Spadola C, Messiah SE. Review of family-based approaches to improve postoperative outcomes among bariatric surgery patients. Surg Obes Relat Dis. 2015;11(2):451–8.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  20. 20.
    Zeller MH, Guilfoyle SM, Reiter-Purtill J, Ratcliff MB, Inge TH, Long JD. Adolescent bariatric surgery: caregiver and family functioning across the first postoperative year. Surg Obes Relat Dis. 2011;7(2):145–50.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  21. 21.
    Cranwell J, Seymour-Smith S. Monitoring and normalising a lack of appetite and weight loss. A discursive analysis of an online support group for bariatric surgery. Appetite. 2012;58(3):873–81.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  22. 22.
    Sharman M, Hensher M, Wilkinson S, Williams D, Palmer A, Venn A, et al. What are the support experiences and needs of patients who have received bariatric surgery? Health Expect. 2017;20(1):35–46.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  23. 23.
    King WC, Chen JY, Courcoulas AP, Dakin GF, Engel SG, Flum DR, et al. Alcohol and other substance use after bariatric surgery: prospective evidence from a U.S. multicenter cohort study. Surg Obes Relat Dis. 2017 Aug;13(8):1392–402.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  24. 24.
    Vidot DC, Prado G, De La Cruz-Munoz N, Spadola C, Cuesta M, Messiah SE. Postoperative marijuana use and disordered eating among bariatric surgery patients. Surg Obes Relat Dis. 2016;12(1):171–8.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of SurgeryWashington University School of MedicineSt. LouisUSA

Personalised recommendations