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Psychiatric Woes Can Postpone Weight-Loss Surgery

A fifth of patients need to work through mental problems beforehand, study finds

MONDAY, Oct. 15 (HealthDay News) -- About one in every five people who were candidates for bariatric weight-loss surgery did not receive the recommended psychiatric clearance for the procedure, a U.S. study shows.

Psychiatric evaluations are part of the preoperative screening process in most bariatric surgery programs, notes a team from the Rhode Island Hospital and Brown University in Providence.

The most common reasons why patients did not receive psychiatric clearance included frequent overeating to cope with stress/emotional distress; a current eating disorder; or uncontrolled psychiatric disorders.

The researchers also found that the decision to clear candidates for bariatric surgery is made with high reliability -- meaning that a review of available information by independent psychiatrists would result in the same decision.

"The goal of psychiatric evaluation is not to keep patients from having the surgery. Rather, the goal is to determine if there are any problems that might interfere with the success of surgery, and have the patient get treatment for these problems," study author Dr. Mark Zimmerman, director of outpatient psychiatry at Rhode Island Hospital and a professor of psychiatry and human behavior at Brown University, said in a prepared statement.

He said a patient is "more likely to have a positive outcome from surgery that is delayed to allow time to address the problems."

The study appears in the October issue of the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry.

More information

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-- Robert Preidt

SOURCE: Rhode Island Hospital, news release, Oct. 15, 2007

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