Feasibility of acceptance and commitment therapy for post-bariatric surgery patients: the FAB study protocol


  • Lisa Cotter School of Health Sciences, Kate Granger Building, Guildford
  • Samantha Scholtz Research and Development, West London Mental Health Trust, Southall, London
  • Shikta Das UCL Institute of Cardiovascular Science, MRC Unit for Lifelong Health and Ageing at UCL, London
  • John Tayu Lee Imperial College London, Reynolds Building, Charing Cross Hospital, London
  • Dayna Lee-Baggley Behaviour Change Research Institute, Nova Scotia Health Authority, Halifax, Nova Scotia
  • Elizabeth A. Barley School of Health Sciences, Kate Granger Building, Guildford




Obesity, Acceptance and commitment therapy, Bariatric surgery, Third wave therapy, Psychological intervention, Weight management


Background: Bariatric surgery is an effective treatment for obesity. However, around one in five people experience significant weight regain. In the months following surgery, loss of food as a hedonic reward, increased sensitivity to food-related cues, alcohol use and depression may translate into new obesogenic behaviours which can be targeted in therapy. Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) teaches acceptance of and defusion from thoughts and feelings which influence behaviour, and commitment to act in line with personal values. We will test whether people who have had bariatric surgery over one year ago find 10 weeks of ACT group therapy an acceptable treatment and whether a larger trial to test whether ACT can improve long-term post-operative outcomes would be feasible.

Methods: This will be a feasibility randomised controlled trial (RCT) with participants randomised to either ACT or a Usual Care Support Group control. Participants will be recruited at 15-18 months post-surgery and compared at baseline, 3, 6 and 12 months. The trial will provide information about recruitment and characteristics of the proposed outcome measures to inform a definitive RCT.

Conclusions: Trials big enough to determine whether a treatment approach works are costly, so this small study will help determine whether the methods used, such as how people are recruited, allocated to groups, and how data are collected, are likely to work on a bigger scale. This project is the first step in testing whether ACT can help people who have had bariatric surgery.

Trial Registration: Researchregistry.com, UIN: 3959 (date registered: 10 April 2018); ISRCTN registry ID: ISRCTN52074801.


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