Examination of bariatric surgery Facebook support groups: a content analysis

Afton M. Koball, Dylan J. Jester, Sarah E. Domoff, Kara J. Kallies, Karen B. Grothe, Shanu N. Kothari

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Scopus citations


Background Support following bariatric surgery is vital to ensure long-term postoperative success. Many individuals undergoing bariatric surgery are turning to online modalities, especially the popular social media platform Facebook, to access support groups and pages. Despite evidence suggesting that the majority of patients considering bariatric surgery are utilizing online groups, little is known about the actual content of these groups. Objectives The purpose of the present study was to conduct a content analysis of bariatric surgery support groups and pages on Facebook. Setting Online via Facebook, independent academic medical center, United States. Methods Data from bariatric surgery–related Facebook support groups and pages were extracted over a 1-month period in 2016. Salient content themes (e.g., progress posts, depression content, eating behaviors) were coded reliably (all κ>.70). Results More than 6,800 posts and replies were coded. Results indicated that seeking recommendations (11%), providing information or recommendations (53%), commenting on changes since surgery (19%), and lending support to other members (32%) were the most common types of posts. Content surrounding anxiety, eating behaviors, depression, body image, weight bias, and alcohol was found less frequently. Conclusions Online bariatric surgery groups can be used to receive support, celebrate physical and emotional accomplishments, provide anecdotal accounts of the “bariatric lifestyle” for preoperative patients, and comment on challenges with mental health and experiences of weight bias. Providers should become acquainted with the content commonly found in online groups and exercise caution in recommending these platforms to information-seeking patients.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1369-1375
Number of pages7
JournalSurgery for Obesity and Related Diseases
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 2017


  • Bariatric surgery
  • Content analysis
  • Media effects
  • Online social networking
  • Social media
  • Support groups

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery


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