At least 15 million Americans are more than 100 pounds overweight. While weight loss surgery is a very effective treatment for these patients, it also has risks. There are four different types of weight loss surgery and the risks and benefits of these procedures vary widely and are strongly affected by patient factors such as age, sex, race, and the amount of excess body weight. The treatment options also vary in other ways (such as the type of diet that must be followed after surgery) that should be considered when deciding whether or what type of surgery to have.
The goals of this research proposal are to develop and test a decision support tool for morbid obesity patients considering weight loss surgery. This tool will be based on data regarding the risks (complications and death) and benefits (weight loss, patient satisfaction, and improvements in quality of life after surgery) from 35,000 patients that have previously had weight loss surgery. The final decision tool will be in the form of a website where patients will enter data about themselves and receive a customized report of the expected risks and benefits of the different types of weight loss surgery based on their personal characteristics.
This tool will also provide patients with information about other attributes of the treatment options that should be considered based on data from interviews with bariatric patients and providers. We will test the effects of our decision tool on patient decisions and outcomes by comparing it with usual care at all of the weight loss surgery programs in Michigan. This decision support tool will provide patients with an independent assessment of the risks and benefits of the treatment options, not to replace physician’s clinical judgments but rather to help guide communication between the patient and physician and encourage shared medical decision making.
^Nancy Birkmeyer, PhD, was the original principal investigator on this project.