Psychosocial Research

Psychosocial Research Program

To date, the psychosocial research program has paid particular attention to depression and the pre-surgical psychological assessments of bariatric candidates. Primarily, the research has focused on the efficacy of the Beck Depression Inventory as a measure of depression and the psychological characteristics of bariatric surgery candidates. The key findings suggest that the current measurement of depressive symptoms in this population is inadequate. Based on these key findings, CORE is in a prime position to develop a valid measure of depression in this population.

The pre-surgical psychological assessment of candidates project is now nearing completion with results, both baseline and follow-up at 2 years , currently being disseminated. This large study has found high levels of depressive and anxiety disorders in LAGB seeking patients. Findings from this large study are currently being utilised to inform future research whereby the aim is to identify LAGB patients who are not achieving minimum goals early, in an attempt to maximise weight loss outcomes. This initial psychological research has provided the foundation for the growing psychosocial research program at CORE.

Future Directions

We also have an exciting new program of research examining a range of psychological aspects of obesity. This research program aims to improve our understanding of the (1) psychological characteristics of obese adults, (2) the psychological impacts of laparoscopic gastric banding and weight loss and (3) the role of psychological interventions in improving engagement, retention, compliance and outcomes of weight loss interventions. Results of these studies will provide further evidence of the benefits of LAGB on psychosocial outcomes and inform strategies to further improve the outcomes of LAGB.

The pscyhological comorbidities research project has commenced with an analysis of existing psychological data collected during randomised controlled trials conducted by CORE. This will be the first time that CORE has comprehensively reported on these using randomised controlled trial data thus providing stronger evidence of the psychosocial benefits of LAGB and weight loss.

The depression research project aims to examine (1) the efficacy and cost-efficacy of LAGB in the treatment of major depressive disorder and (2) the mechanisms via which weight loss results in improved depressive symptoms. This study will provide essential information about the efficacy, cost-efficacy, acceptability and feasibility of treating major depressive disorder in obese patients seeking bariatric surgery.

The treatment of eating disorders in bariatric surgery patients has not been comprehensively explored. This research project aims to comprehensively examine; (1) the eating disorder profile of obese patients pre and post LAGB and (2) the longer-term impacts of disordered eating on weight loss and complications.

Obesity and its metabolic comorbidities have been implicated in cognitive dysfunction (e.g., dementia) in later life. Preliminary research also suggests that middle aged obese adults may have deficits in executive functioning and cognitive performance compared to non-obese individuals and that weight loss may reverse these effects. This research project aims to; (1) comprehensively explore the neuropsychological profile of obese middle aged adults to determine the impact of obesity on neuropsychological functioning in middle age, and (2) to determine whether LAGB induced weight loss can reverse the neuropsychological effects of middle-age obesity thus improving cognitive function and decreasing the risk of future cognitive impairment.

Photograph of a female patient in a psychology session

Preliminary work on the role of psychological interventions in improving engagement, retention, compliance and outcomes of weight loss interventions has commenced with a series of studies exploring barriers and facilitators to LAGB aftercare. Aftercare is a critical component in LAGB outcomes and available research suggests that a significant proportion of LAGB patients do not attend regular aftercare required for optimal outcomes. Despite this, the barriers and facilitators to aftercare attendance have not been systematically explored in the bariatric surgery. This research project aims to (1) identify the barriers and facilitators to aftercare attendance and (2) develop approaches to improve aftercare attendance and optimise LAGB outcomes.