Sexual abuse survivors and psychiatric hospitalization after bariatric surgery

Obes Surg. 2007 Apr;17(4):465-9. doi: 10.1007/s11695-007-9084-4.


Background: Some investigators have postulated that a history of being the victim of childhood sexual abuse may impact outcome of bariatric surgery.

Methods: In this retrospective chart review, we examined the electronic medical records of 152 adults with morbid obesity who underwent Roux-en-Y gastric bypass and who had a weight recorded in their medical record or reported in a follow-up surgery at 2 years after the RYGBP. The purpose of this retrospective chart review was to examine the relationship between psychosocial factors assessed preoperatively and the percent of excess weight lost (%EWL) at 2 years after bariatric surgery.

Results: We found a high prevalence of being the victim of childhood sexual abuse (27%), adult sexual trauma (9%), and/or physical abuse (19%) at the initial evaluation. There was no association between these factors and %EWL at 2 years. However, when we examined participants' medical records for post-operative psychiatric hospitalizations at our medical center, 8 of 11 hospitalized patients reported a history of childhood sexual abuse (73%).

Conclusions: History of being the victim of childhood sexual abuse is reported frequently by patients seeking bariatric surgery. Our finding that having been the victim of childhood sexual abuse may be associated with increased risk of psychiatric hospitalization after RYGBP has several clinical implications. First, we recommend that clinicians assess carefully for a history of sexual or physical abuse, and secondly, abuse survivors may need to be told that there is an increased risk of psychiatric morbidity after bariatric surgery. Finally, perhaps close monitoring of these patients may prevent psychiatric difficulties after surgery. Further research to verify these preliminary findings is clearly needed.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Child
  • Child Abuse, Sexual / psychology*
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Gastric Bypass*
  • Hospitalization / statistics & numerical data*
  • Humans
  • Mental Disorders / complications
  • Mental Disorders / therapy
  • Middle Aged
  • Obesity / psychology*
  • Obesity / surgery*
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Weight Loss*