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Bariatric surgery leads to less improvement in black patients

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Revisiting disparities postbariatric surgery

The well-documented disparities between black and white patients after bariatric surgery are brought back to the forefront via to this study from Wood et al., according to Brian Hodgens, MD, and Kenric M. Murayama, MD, of the University of Hawaii, Honolulu.

Some of the findings hint at the cultural differences that permeate the time before and after a surgery like this: In particular, they highlighted how black patients were more likely to report good or very good quality of life before surgery but less likely after. This could be related to a “difference in perceptions of obesity by black patients,” where they are more hesitant to pursue the surgery than their white counterparts, Dr. Hodgens and Dr. Murayama wrote.

More work is needed, they added, but “this study and others like it can better equip practicing bariatric surgeons to educate themselves and patients on expectations before and after bariatric surgery.”

These comments are adapted from an accompanying editorial ( JAMA Surg. 2019 Mar 6. doi: 1 0.1001/jamasurg.2019.0067 ). Dr. Murayama reported receiving personal fees from Medtronic outside the submitted work.



Black patients who undergo bariatric surgery have a higher rate of overall complications and a lower postsurgery quality of life than white patients, according to a study of bariatric surgery patients in Michigan.

“Per this analysis, there are significant racial disparities in perioperative outcomes, weight loss, and quality of life after bariatric surgery,” wrote lead author Michael H. Wood, MD, of Wayne State University, Detroit, and his coauthors, adding that, “while biological differences may explain some of the disparity in outcomes, environmental, social, and behavioral factors likely play a role.” The study was published online in JAMA Surgery.

This study reviewed data from 14,210 participants in the Michigan Bariatric Surgery Collaborative (MBSC), a state-wide consortium and clinical registry of bariatric surgery patients. Matching cohorts were established for black (n = 7,105) and white (n = 7,105) patients who underwent a primary bariatric operation (Roux-en-Y gastric bypass, sleeve gastrectomy, or adjustable gastric banding) between June 2006 and January 2017. The only significant differences between cohorts – clarified as “never more than 1 or 2 percentage points” – were in regard to income brackets and procedure type.

At 30-day follow-up, the rate of overall complications was higher in black patients (628, 8.8%) than in white patients (481, 6.8%; adjusted odds ratio, 1.33; 95% confidence interval, 1.17-1.51; P = .02), as was the length of stay (mean, 2.2 days vs. 1.9 days; aOR, 0.30; 95% CI, 0.20-0.40; P less than .001). Black patients also had a higher rate of both ED visits (541 [11.6%] vs. 826 [7.6%]; aOR, 1.60; 95% CI, 1.43-1.79; P less than .001) and readmissions (414 [5.8%] vs. 245 [3.5%]; aOR, 1.73; 95% CI, 1.47-2.03; P less than .001).

In addition, at 1-year follow-up, black patients had a lower mean weight loss (32.0 kg vs. 38.3 kg; P less than .001) and percentage of total weight loss (26% vs. 29%; P less than .001) compared with white patients. And though black patients were more likely than white patients to report a high quality of life before surgery (2,672 [49.5%] vs. 2,354 [41.4%]; P less than .001), they were less likely to do so 1 year afterward (1,379 [87.2%] vs. 2,133 [90.4%]; P = .002).

The coauthors acknowledged the limitations of their study, including potential unmeasured factors between cohorts such as disease duration or severity. They also noted that a wider time horizon than 30 days post surgery could have altered the results, although “serious adverse events and resource use tend to be highest within the first month after surgery, and we anticipate that this effect would have been negligible.”

The study was funded by Blue Cross Blue Shield Michigan/Blue Care Network. Dr. Wood reported no conflicts of interest. Three of his coauthors reported receiving salary support from Blue Cross Blue Shield Michigan/Blue Care Network for their work with the MBSC, and one other coauthor reported receiving an honorarium for being the MBSC’s executive committee chair.

SOURCE: Wood MH et al. JAMA Surg. 2019 Mar 6. doi: 10.1001/jamasurg.2019.0029.

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