The Lived Experience of Women Following a Surgical Weight Loss Intervention

Friday, 17 July 2009: 8:50 AM

Douglas Sutton, EdD, ARNP, RN
College of Nursing, Florida Atlantic University, Boca Raton, FL

Learning Objective 1: describe the impact of undergoing bariatric surgery from the perspective of the actual person.

Learning Objective 2: name four common themes reported by persons who have undergone a SWLI.

Background: Surgical weight loss intervention (SWLI) is an increasingly popular modality used for the morbidly obese person to induce permanent weight loss. Achievement of post surgical goals requires adaptation of physical, social, and psychological domains. 

Purpose: The purpose of this study is to explore the lived experience of the individual following a SWLI. 
Theoretical Framework: A phenomenological approach was used to fully describe the experience and increase awareness of the needs of the person who undergoes a SWLI.
Methods: The hermeneutic phenomenological process (van Manen, 1990) served as the methodology.  This methodology identifies six activities to guide phenomenological inquiry: turning to a phenomenon; investigating the experience as we live it rather than we conceptualize it; reflecting on the essential themes which characterize the phenomenon; describing the phenomenon through the art of writing and rewriting; maintaining a strong and oriented relation to the phenomenon and balancing the research context by considering parts and whole.

Results: Fourteen women who had undergone a SWLI were interviewed. Four themes evolved: surgery as a tool and not a cure, failure to disclose to others their decision, fear of failure, and transformation of self-image.  Participants described the post-surgical experience as a time of rapid physical transformation.  All four lifeworlds as described by van Manen: spatiality, corporeality, temporality, and relationality were affected. 

Conclusion: Developing an understanding of the individual’s experience and the human consequences of these interventions is important for the nurse who provides teaching, support and counseling. Nurses are concerned with the well-being of the whole person, therefore developing an understanding and an appreciation of the experience of a SWLI from the perspective of the person is significant.  With the science added to the disciplinary knowledge, nurses will have an additional evidence-based resource to use when caring for persons coping with obesity and SWLI.