The risk of self-harm pre and post bariatric surgery reaches heightened levels according to a recently published study.
The main findings of the study indicate that social pressure before a patient undergoes bariatric surgery ups the risk of self-harm. Post bariatric surgery, perceived social pressure and a mix of hormonal and metabolic changes enable the same risk.
The research was conducted by researchers at the University of Toronto and included approximately 9,000 adult Canadian citizens, all of which had undergone bariatric surgery to aid in losing body weight. The unicity of study is embedded in the fact that it followed the same patients over the course of five years, from 2006 to 2011, taking into account both the period before the bariatric surgery was conducted, as well as the period after. As such, the patients were used as their own controls.
Throughout the study, the research team monitored the number of times each patient had been brought to the emergency room for self-harm attempts. According to the results, before bariatric surgery the risk of self-harm in patients set to undergo the procedure reached twice the level of risk in the general population. For each year before the weight-loss surgery, the researchers calculated a number of 2.33 incidents in each group of 1,000 patients.
Surprisingly, the risk of self-harm pre and post bariatric surgery was altogether even higher. In the years following the procedure the number of instances when patients were brought to the emergency room for attempting to harm themselves increased to 3.63 per 1,000.
Overall, 62 self-harm reports were followed in three years pre bariatric surgery. The three year timeframe following the medical procedure brought a number of 96 reports. The most common attempts at self-harm included over-medication, as well as physical harm.
The study draws attention on the risk of self-harm pre and post bariatric surgery and the need to include therapy possibly as a mandatory step.
“Because self-harm emergencies are a strong predictor of suicide, these findings highlight the importance of screening for self-harm behaviors in patients undergoing bariatric surgery”.
According to Doctor Junaid Bhatti, lead author on the study and epidemiologist with the Sunnybrook Research Institute, University of Toronto, previous studies have already indicated that suicide rates spike among bariatric surgery patients. The new research sheds more light on this aspect as it follows the patients after surgery as well.
The findings have been published in the JAMA Surgery journal.
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