A qualitative analysis of problematic and non-problematic alcohol use after bariatric surgery
School of Arts and Humanities
OBJECTIVES: Bariatric surgery is an effective weight loss tool, but an under-communicated side effect may include the increased risk for alcohol problems. Few studies have examined contributors towards alcohol problems following surgery using a qualitative approach. Therefore, the current study aimed to generate insight informed by participants with problematic alcohol use following bariatric surgery, in comparison with participants without.
METHODS: Participants (14; females, n = 9; males, n = 5) completed semi-structured interviews using questions relating to alcohol use, relationship to food, support and surgical experiences. Thematic analysis was conducted to provide insight into the factors which influenced drinking behaviours that participants engaged in following bariatric surgery, and motivations for drinking or limiting alcohol.
RESULTS: Five core themes were identified between both participants with and without problematic alcohol use: (1) drinking motivations, (2) self-image, (3) impact of restriction on eating behaviour, (4) support needs and (5) surgical preparedness. A sixth core theme ("resilience") was identified specifically amongst participants without problematic alcohol use. Divergent experiences, cognitions and behaviours formed sub-themes within the five core themes and highlighted the differences between participants with and without problematic alcohol use within the core themes.
CONCLUSION: This study is the first to qualitatively assess themes relating to the development of problematic alcohol use after bariatric surgery while additionally using a comparison group without problematic alcohol use. The findings highlight key features which contribute to problematic alcohol use, as well as experiences and cognitions that may be helpful in preventing this phenomenon in bariatric populations.