Preoperative Psychological Assessment and Weight Loss Outcomes in Bariatric Surgery Patients at a Military Treatment Facility: A Retrospective Profile Analysis

Mil Med. 2021 Feb 22;usab078. doi: 10.1093/milmed/usab078. Online ahead of print.


Introduction: Research on effectiveness of preoperative psychological measures as predictors of weight loss success and weight regain following bariatric surgery has been inconsistent. Despite mixed findings, preoperative psychological assessment instruments are used routinely, including in military medical facilities. Health concerns associated with obesity potentially impact military family readiness, with accompanying utilization of medical resources. Examining psychological factors associated with successful bariatric surgery outcomes may help to optimize care.

Materials and methods: This retrospective, observational study sought to identify characteristic elevations on two recommended preoperative psychological assessment instruments for bariatric surgery candidates: the Personality Assessment Inventory (PAI) and the Millon Behavioral Medicine Diagnostic (MBMD). Additionally, profile analysis was performed on assessment scales based on groupings of whether or not patients (N = 194) met their ideal BMI over a 60-month period. The Institutional Review Board at Madigan Army Medical Center approved this study protocol.

Results: Means and standard deviations for PAI and the MBMD are presented for this sample of benefits-eligible patients in the military health system. Measures between bariatric outcome groups were not significantly different, but characteristic elevations for bariatric surgery candidates overall were identified.

Conclusion: The average elevations of scales were not above clinical cutoff, but still indicate characteristic trends in patients undergoing surgery at an MTF. These scales may be important to attend to with bariatric surgery candidates, especially scales which are related to psychopathology, treatment prognosis, and treatment management. Study results about scale elevations on preoperative psychological assessment instruments may help patients better manage bariatric surgery and can lead to enhanced warfighter readiness and decreased utilization of healthcare resources. Future work should examine postoperative behavioral and psychological factors, as the adjustment to lifestyle limitations of bariatric surgery is substantial.