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Peer-to-Peer: The role of online support for patients with obesity

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Support group attendance and perceived levels of social support are associated with greater post-bariatric surgery weight loss.1,2 Unfortunately, geography and time constraints can limit participation. Therefore, online forums, Facebook groups, and tweetchats can serve to provide a sense of community while overcoming these limitations. Studies show online forums can be a useful resource for information and emotional support in obesity and bariatric surgery.3,4 The formats of online support have evolved over time from listservs to established communities such as Bariatric Pal and more recently Facebook groups and tweetchats. Some users choose to post anonymously while others share their identity and blog publicly about their experiences. While these forms of online support are shown to be beneficial, physicians may not regularly endorse their use.
 
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In our next #obsm chat, we will provide a forum for patients and health care practitioners to learn from patients and their loved ones on their personal online support experiences. Our goal is to help patients and physicians understand how online support groups can complement the care of patients with obesity, those considering bariatric surgery, and post-surgical patients. We will explore the utility, benefit, and potential pitfalls of online peer-to-peer support.

  1. What is the utility of online support for patients with #obesity and those considering #bariatricsurgery?
  2. What are the cons of online support in #obesity and #BariatricSurgery? Are there pitfalls to be aware of?
  3. What are the strengths and weaknesses of the different online platforms for people with #obesity and pre- and post- #bariatricsurgery support?
  4. Should physicians recommend online support to their patients? If so, which platforms are most useful?
  5. How do you predict (or hope) online support for those with #obesity and those undergoing #bariatricsurgery will evolve?
 
~The #obsm chat leadershipHeather Logghe, MD, Neil Floch, MD, Amir Ghaferi, MD, MS, Babak Moein, MD, and Arghavan Salles, MD, PhD  
 
References:
4. Story Of Obesity Surgery - American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery. American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery. https://asmbs.org/resources/story-of-obesity-surgery. Accessed June 5, 2017.

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