Background: The lack of standards for comparison of results was identified by the NIH Consensus Conference panelists as one of the key problems in evaluating reports in the surgical treatment of severe obesity. The analysis of outcomes after bariatric surgery should include weight loss, improvement in comorbidities related to obesity, and quality-of-life (QOL) assessment. Definitions of success and failure should be established and the presentation of results standardized.
Methods: A survey among experienced bariatric surgeons was conducted to study the reporting of results. The concept of evaluating outcomes by using a scoring system was introduced in 1997 and has now been refined further. Psychologists with expertise in bariatrics were asked to recommend a disease-specific instrument to analyze QOL after surgery.
Results: The system defines five outcome groups (failure, fair, good, very good, and excellent), based on a scoring table that adds or subtracts points while evaluating three main areas: percentage of excess weight loss, changes in medical conditions, and QOL. To assess changes in QOL after treatment, this method incorporates a specifically designed patient questionnaire that addresses self-esteem and four daily activities. Complications and reoperative surgery deduct points, thus avoiding the controversy of considering reoperations as failures.
Conclusions: The Bariatric Analysis and Reporting Outcome System (BAROS) analyzes outcomes in a simple, objective, unbiased, and evidence-based fashion. It can be adapted to evaluate other forms of medical intervention for the control of obesity. This method should be considered by international organizations for the adoption of standards for the outcome assessment of bariatric treatments, and for the comparison of results among surgical series. These standards could also be used to compare the long-term effects of surgery with nonoperative weight loss methods.