Date of Award

7-24-2013

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Psychology (PsyD)

Committee Chair

Michael Christopher, Ph.D.

Second Advisor

Daniel Munoz, Ph.D.

Third Advisor

Linda Fishman, Ph.D.

Abstract

Weight loss surgery (WLS) has become an effective treatment for severe obesity. After rapid weight loss WLS patients need to adjust their psychosocial functioning, as well as deal with weight loss maintenance. Bariatric support groups are recommended to help maintain weight loss and may improve patients’ quality of life (QOL). Online bariatric support groups have recently become available but their effectiveness has not been well researched. This study was aimed at examining the effect of attendance of in-person and/or online groups on weight loss, measured as a change in body mass index (BMI) and QOL. It was hypothesized that weight loss and quality of life would vary based on attendance and the type of support group. It was predicted that attendance of any type of support group would increase QOL and weight loss. Contrary to what was predicted, it was found that while attendance of in-person support groups has a positive effect on psychological and bariatric QOL as compared to not attending any groups at all, participation in online groups alone does not have this effect. Environmental, social and physical QOL or change in BMI do not appear to be moderated by group attendance. Clinical implications and limitations of these findings, as well as recommendations for future research, are discussed.

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