A Qualitative Examination of Increased Alcohol Use after Bariatric Surgery among Racially/Ethnically Diverse Young Adults
Mounting evidence suggests that bariatric surgery, or weight loss surgery (WLS), patients might be vulnerable to developing post-operative alcohol use problems. While the majority of published research offers information concerning the prevalence of problematic alcohol use post-WLS, the literature lacks comprehensive, qualitative explorations examining why alcohol misuse might emerge after WLS. Such data-driven hypotheses are needed to effectively target this emerging concern. Additionally, young adults and racial/ethnic minorities are both increasingly undergoing WLS and are at heightened risk for problems related to alcohol use. To date, these groups have been under-represented in study samples.
To address these important gaps in the literature, racially/ethnically diverse, young adult WLS patients who indicated a post-WLS increase in alcohol use (n = 12) participated in an individual, semi-structured qualitative interview. Data were analyzed through two coding cycles; an external audit of the emerging themes was also conducted to further ensure the trustworthiness of the data.
Interviews revealed four major themes prompting an increase in alcohol use after WLS: (1) increased sensitivity to alcohol intoxication, (2) utilizing alcohol as a replacement self-soothing mechanism for food, (3) increase in socialization, and (4) utilizing alcohol as a coping mechanism.
By understanding the drivers of increases in alcohol use after WLS, precision-targeted pre- and post-surgical counseling interventions can be developed to address this emerging concern.
KeywordsBariatric surgery Young adult Alcohol RYGB Substance use Weight loss surgery Qualitative
The authors wish to thank Geoffrey Hunt PhD, Suzanne Bertisch MD MPH, Rebecca Rottapel MS MPH, and Susan Redline MD MPH for their feedback on this manuscript. The authors also are grateful for the participants who generously shared their post-WLS experiences, without whom this article would not be possible.
This study was funded by the Micah Batchelor Foundation.
Compliance with Ethical Standards
Conflicts of Interest
The authors declare they have no conflicts of interest.
All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.
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