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Depressive symptoms and quality of life prior to metabolic surgery in Cape Town, South Africa

Wilma M. Kruger-Steyn
Jeanne Lubbe
Kerry-Ann Louw
Laila Asmal


Background: Depression has been shown to have a negative impact on the outcomes of metabolic surgery and quality of life (QOL). Currently, there are limited data on mental distress and QOL in metabolic surgery candidates in South Africa.
Aim: This study aimed to determine the prevalence of depressive symptoms at the time of presurgical assessment in participants undergoing metabolic surgery.
Setting: The Obesity and Metabolic Surgery Initiative at Tygerberg Hospital.
Methods: We conducted pre-operatively a retrospective cross-sectional study on patients who underwent metabolic surgery from September 2017 to September 2019. Participants were profiled in terms of metabolic parameters, depressive symptoms and QOL.
Results: Of the 157 participants assessed, 88% were female with a body mass index in the super obese range. Twenty-two percent of participants had depressive symptoms. Metabolic surgery candidates with depressive symptoms had a significantly poorer overall QOL score compared with those without depressive symptoms. When controlling for all other variables, an increase in QOL score was shown to decrease the odds of current depressive symptoms, whilst back pain on non-narcotic medication and having had a stroke were found to increase the odds of current depressive symptoms.
Conclusion: This study highlights the complex interplay between metabolic, clinical and psychiatric factors in patients undergoing metabolic surgery. The study highlights the vital role of a psychiatrist as part of a multidisciplinary team pre- and post-operatively in the early identification of depressive symptoms. Psychiatrists may have an important role to play as part of the multidisciplinary team in metabolic surgery, including screening for mental health problems pre- and post-operatively, providing psychoeducation and relevant pharmacological treatment and psychotherapy where needed.
Contribution: This study expands our limited knowledge of psychiatric comorbidity (in particular depressive symptoms and associated factors) in people undergoing metabolic surgery in low- and middle-income countries.

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eISSN: 2078-6786
print ISSN: 1608-9685