An Initial Test of the Efficacy of a Digital Health Intervention for Bariatric Surgery Candidates

Robyn Sysko, Andreas Michaelides, Kayla Costello, Daniel M. Herron, Tom Hildebrandt

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Rigorous research on smartphone apps for individuals pursuing bariatric surgery is limited. A digital health intervention was recently developed using standard behavioral weight loss programs with specific modifications for bariatric surgery. The current study evaluated this intervention for improving diet, exercise, and psychosocial health over 8 weeks prior to surgery in an academic medical center. Methods: Fifty patients were randomized to receive either the digital intervention or treatment as usual prior to a surgical procedure. Measures of anxiety, depression, stress, quality of life, physical activity, and diet were administered at baseline and at 8-week follow-up. Statistical power of 80% estimated for N = 50 to detect ES = 0.68 with alpha = 0.05. Results: Results of intent-to-treat (N = 50 baseline, N = 36 follow-up) analyses indicated significant moderate differences in stress and anxiety (ES = − 0.58 to − 0.62) favoring the digital intervention. Effects of the program on total daily calories consumed, body mass index, quality of life, and eating disorder symptoms were small (ES = − 0.24 to 0.33) and not significant. Given small effects for these domains, the sample size of the study likely affected the ability to detect significant differences. Conclusions: The digital health intervention appears to significantly impact several measures of physical activity and emotional functioning in candidates for bariatric surgery, which could augment surgical outcomes. Graphical abstract: [Figure not available: see fulltext.]

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3641-3649
Number of pages9
JournalObesity Surgery
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 2022


  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Digital Intervention
  • Psychosocial Intervention
  • Smartphone Application


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