Psychological functioning and well-being before and after bariatric surgery; what is the benefit of being self-compassionate?

Johanna Pyykkö*, Ömrüm Aydin, Victor Gerdes, Yair Acherman, Albert Groen, Arnold van deLaar, Max Nieuwdorp, Robbert Sanderman, Mariet Hagedoorn

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)
184 Downloads (Pure)


Objective To investigate whether patients’ psychological well-being (depression, quality of life, body image satisfaction) and functioning (self-efficacy for eating and exercising behaviours and food cravings) improve 12 months after bariatric surgery and whether self-compassion is associated with better psychological outcomes and lower weight after bariatric surgery. Design Longitudinal, prospective observational study. Methods Bariatric patients (n = 126, 77.8% female, 46.4 ± 10.8 years) completed the Self-compassion Scale, Center for Epidemiology Studies Depression Scale, Impact of Weight on Quality-of-Life questionnaire, Body Image Scale, Weight Efficacy Lifestyle Questionnaire, Spinal Cord Injury Exercise Self-Efficacy Scale, and G-Food Craving Questionnaire pre-operatively and 12 months post-operatively. A medical professional measured patients’ weight during each assessment. Data were analysed using repeated measures t-tests and multivariate regression analyses with Benjamini–Hochberg correction for multiple testing. Results Patients’ BMI, depression, and food cravings decreased significantly after surgery while quality of life, body image satisfaction, and self-efficacy to exercise improved. Higher self-compassion was associated with lower post-operative depression, greater quality of life, higher body image satisfaction, and better self-efficacy for eating behaviours (p-values <.05) but not with post-operative BMI, self-efficacy to exercise, or food cravings. Conclusions Even though pre-operative self-compassion was not directly associated with a lower 12-month post-operative BMI, it had a positive relationship with patients’ post-operative well-being and self-efficacy for controlling eating behaviour. In turn, this could help patients to manage their health long after bariatric surgery. Further work regarding the role of self-compassion on long-term health outcomes would be worthwhile.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)96-115
Number of pages20
JournalBritish Journal of Health Psychology
Issue number1
Early online date12-May-2021
Publication statusPublished - Feb-2022


  • Health Related Quality of Life
  • Weight loss
  • depression symptoms
  • Body Image


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