Impact of Spanish-language information sessions on Spanish-speaking patients seeking bariatric surgery

Allison N. Martin, Miguel Marino, Marie Killerby, Liliana Rosselli-Risal, Kellene A. Isom, Malcolm K. Robinson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Background Bariatric centers frequently provide preoperative educational programs to inform patients about the risks and benefits of weight loss surgery. However, most programs are conducted in English, which may create barriers to effective treatment and access to care for non-English speaking populations. To address this concern, we instituted a comprehensive Spanish-language education program consisting of preoperative information and group nutrition classes conducted entirely in, and supported with Spanish-language materials. Objectives The primary aim was to examine the effect of this intervention on Spanish-speaking patients’ decision to undergo surgery in a pilot study. Setting University Hospital/Community Health Center, United States. Methods Three cohorts of patients seeking bariatric surgery between January 1, 2011 and March 31, 2012 were identified: 1) primary English speakers attending English-language programs (“English-English”); 2) primary Spanish speakers attending Spanish-language programs (“Spanish-Spanish”); and 3) primary Spanish speakers attending English-speaking programs with the assistance of a Spanish-to-English translator (“Spanish-English”). Results 26% of the English-English cohort ultimately underwent surgery compared with only 12% of the Spanish-Spanish cohort (P =.009). Compared with the English-English group, time to surgery was 35 days longer for the Spanish-Spanish and 185 days longer for the Spanish-English group (both P<.001). Conclusion Spanish-speaking patients were less likely to undergo bariatric surgery regardless of the language in which educational sessions are provided. For those choosing surgery, providing Spanish-language sessions can shorten time to surgery. A barrier to effective obesity treatment may exist for Spanish speakers, which may be only partially overcome by providing support in Spanish.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1025-1031
Number of pages7
JournalSurgery for Obesity and Related Diseases
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2017


  • Obesity
  • Spanish-language
  • community health
  • education
  • weight loss

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery


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