The Meaning of Awaiting Bariatric Surgery Due to Morbid Obesity

My Engström*, 1, Malin Wiklund2, Monika Fagevik Olsén2, Hans Lönroth1, Anna Forsberg3
1 Department of Gastrosurgical Research and Education, Sahlgrenska Academy at Gothenburg University, Gothenburg, Sweden
2 Department of Neuroscience and Physiology, Sahlgrenska Academy at Gothenburg University, Gothenburg, Sweden
3 Institute of Health and Caring Science, Sahlgrenska Academy at Gothenburg University, Gothenburg, Sweden

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© Engström et al.; Licensee Bentham Open.

open-access license: This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial License ( which permits unrestricted, non-commercial use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the work is properly cited.

* Address correspondence to this author at the Department of Gastrosurgical Research and Education, Sahlgrenska Academy at Gothenburg University, Gothenburg, Sweden; Tel: +46 31 342 84 04; Fax: +46 31 41 18 82; E-mail:



The understanding of the association between the objective conditions of health and the subjective perceptions of morbidly obese patients appears to be poor. The use of objective indicators alone produces results totally unrelated to the feelings and experiences of the bariatric patients studied. No study has approached the bariatric patient from both an inside and a preoperative perspective.


The aim of this study was to investigate the meaning of awaiting bariatric surgery due to morbid obesity. Method: Twenty-three patients admitted to a Swedish University Hospital for bariatric surgery were included. Data were collected by interviews and the analysis was performed using the phenomenological hermeneutics method developed by Lindseth and Norberg.

Main Findings:

Two structural thematic analyses revealed six main themes: experiencing food as a complex element in life, feeling hopeless regarding weight loss, living in fear of future sickness and death, living a restricted life, being ignored by health care professionals and hoping for control and opportunities. The informants experienced addiction to food and dependence on others for managing their daily life, which constituted an infringement of their freedom. Loss of control meant giving in to the desire for food, but also being subjected to stigmatizing remarks from persons in their environment or uncaring approaches from health care professionals.


Being scheduled for bariatric surgery meant developing an awareness of how completely dependent they were on surgery for their survival and prospective health. The scheduled bariatric surgery constituted tangible confirmation that weight loss and restored health were possible.

Keywords: Morbid obesity, awaiting surgery, inside perspective, phenomenological hermeneutics method.