Stigma Toward Bariatric Surgery in the Netherlands, France, and the United Kingdom: Protocol for a Cross-cultural Mixed Methods Study

Franshelis K. Garcia*, Kirsten T. Verkooijen, Esther J. Veen, Bob C. Mulder, Maria A. Koelen, Eric J. Hazebroek

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

Abstract

Background: Bariatric surgery is an effective procedure for the treatment of obesity. Despite this, only 0.1% to 2% of eligible individuals undergo surgery worldwide. The stigma surrounding surgery might be a reason for this. Thus far, no research has systematically studied the nature and implications of bariatric surgery stigma. The limited studies on bariatric surgery stigma are often conducted from the perspective of the public or health care professions and either use small and nonrepresentative samples or fail to capture the full essence and implications of the stigma altogether, including attitudes toward patients and perpetrators of the stigma. In addition, studies from patients' perspectives are limited and tend to address bariatric surgery stigma superficially or implicitly. Finally, the extent to which cultural factors shape and facilitate this stigma and the experiences of patients have not yet been researched. Objective: This study aimed to explore the perceptions, experiences, and consequences of bariatric surgery stigma from the perspective of the public, health care professionals, and patients before and after bariatric surgery. Furthermore, although the concept of stigma is universal, every society has specific cultural norms and values that define acceptable attributes and behaviors for its members. Therefore, this study also aimed to explore the extent to which cultural factors influence bariatric surgery stigma by comparing the Netherlands, France, and the United Kingdom. Methods: This paper describes the protocol for a multiphase mixed methods research design. In the first part, we will conduct a scoping review to determine the current knowledge on bariatric surgery stigma and identify knowledge gaps. In the second part, semistructured interviews among patients before and after bariatric surgery will be conducted to explore their experiences and consequences of bariatric surgery stigma. In the third part, surveys will be conducted among both the public and health care professionals to determine the prevalence, nature, and impact of bariatric surgery stigma. Surveys and interviews will be conducted in the Netherlands, France, and the United Kingdom. Finally, data integration will be conducted at the interpretation and reporting levels. Results: The study began in September 2020 and will continue through September 2025. With the results of the review, we will create an overview of the current knowledge regarding bariatric surgery stigma from patients' perspectives. Qualitative data will provide insights into patients' experiences with bariatric surgery stigma. Quantitative data will provide information related to the prevalence and nature of bariatric surgery stigma from the perspective of the public and health care professionals. Both qualitative and quantitative data will be compared for each country. Conclusions: The findings from this study will lead to new insights that can be used to develop strategies to reduce bariatric surgery stigma and improve access, use, and outcomes of bariatric surgery.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere36753
JournalJMIR Research Protocols
Volume11
Issue number4
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2022

Keywords

  • bariatric surgery
  • cross-cultural study
  • France
  • obesity surgery
  • stigma
  • the Netherlands
  • the United Kingdom
  • weight loss surgery

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