Date of Award


Document Type

Scholarly Project

Degree Name

Master of Occupational Therapy (MOT)


Occupational Therapy

First Advisor

Janet Jedlicka


Bariatric Surgery; Occupational Therapy; Weight Loss


Purpose: The aim of this study was to explore the lived experiences of individuals who had undergone bariatric surgery and the impact weight loss has on occupations.

Methodology: A comprehensive literature review was conducted on the affects of obesity, bariatric surgery and the impacts on occupational performance. Based on the findings of the literature review, a qualitative research study using a phenomenological approach was completed. The Model of Human Occupation (MOHO) served as a guide in developing the interview questions and data analysis process. Four female participants who have undergone bariatric surgery were recruited using a purposive sampling method. The participants were interviewed twice using semi-structured interviews. Data was then coded and organized into categories. Themes that emerged from the process illustrated participants’ experiences with weight loss surgery and the impact of weight loss on occupational engagement.

Results: The data collected throughout the interview process was organized into four different categories including the history of gaining and losing weight, occupational performance, habituation, and volition. Two assertions emerged from the various themes and categories. The first assertion was the overall quality of life was improved for individuals who had undergone bariatric surgery. The second assertion that emerged was that as individuals lose weight they need to transition into new roles, develop new habits/routines, and implement new coping strategies. The challenges associated with these changes were counteracted by the increased energy levels and productivity in occupational engagement.

Conclusions: The results of this study indicate that occupational therapy can assist individuals who have undergone bariatric surgery transition into new roles; develop new habits, routines and coping strategies; and provide education on energy conservation techniques that facilitate increased occupational engagement. Although positive surgery outcomes have been reported, approximately 20% of the patients are unsuccessful with losing weight or maintaining weight loss due to challenges associated with implementing healthy lifestyle changes (Sarwer, Wadden & Favricatore, 2005). Future research is suggested to explore the effectiveness of occupational therapy’s involvement in a comprehensive bariatric surgical program. The research could help define occupational therapy’s role in assisting individuals who have undergone bariatric surgery implement postoperative lifestyle changes.