2017: Looking Toward Developing Different Strategies to Better Communicate, Inform, and Educate the Public and the Medical Community
A Message from Dr. Raul J. Rosenthal
Raul J. Rosenthal, MD, FACS, FASMBS, Clinical Editor, Bariatric Times; Chief of Staff, Professor of Surgery and Chairman, Department of General Surgery; Director of Minimally Invasive Surgery and The Bariatric and Metabolic Institute; General Surgery Residency Program Director; and Director, Fellowship in MIS and Bariatric Surgery, Cleveland Clinic Florida, Weston, Florida
Dear Readers of Bariatric Times,
I am glad to be back at the helm of BT and resume my monthly editorials together with Dr. Christopher Still, Co-Clinical Editor, and Tracy Martinez, Department Editor of Integrated Health Continuing Education. I would like to thank all of the guest editors that filled in for me while I was acting as President of the American Society for Metabolic & Bariatric Surgery (ASMBS). Serving as President of the largest obesity society in the world this past year, I’ve experienced some the most rewarding moments in my career as a surgeon and physician. I cannot thank the ASMBS membership and leadership enough for giving me such a great honor and opportunity. I also have to thank and acknowledge Bob Dougherty, President and Publisher of Matrix Medical Communications, and the entire BT team for their support during the last 12 years. There is no doubt in my mind that this platform has helped me to better communicate and deliver my message to our readers and caregivers. BT has been a rewarding part of my work. I’m forever thankful to my “orchestra” of supporters who have helped me accomplish goals across many aspects of life.
2017 should be a year filled with great achievements for ASMBS members and our patients, We are already energized under the leadership of President Dr. Stacy Brethauer and we can expect more important work coming out of the ASMBS and its various committees. Recently, The ASMBS Quality Improvement and Patient Safety Committee, under the leadership of Committee Co-Chair Dr. Dana Telem, created a national Care Pathway for Sleeve Gastrectomy. I am excited and eager to read this in print soon and would like to congratulate the committee on a job well done.
I’m also excited about the Essentials of Bariatric & Metabolic Surgery App, which was the brainchild of Drs. Dan and Stephanie Jones. If you haven’t already done so, check it out today at http://essentials.asmbs.org/.
Another huge accomplishment from 2015-2016 was the release of results from a nationally representative survey, carried out by ASMBS and NORC, aimed to gauge public perception of obesity, its risks, available treatment methods., Now, we are in the process of compiling a thorough manuscript titled “Obesity in America,” which will include all the details from survey.
As mentioned in my ASMBS Presidential Address during ObesityWeek 2016 (available at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iKuzkKcPcYU&feature=youtu.be), this survey was made possible thanks to a generous grant from the ASMBS Corporate Council partners and the ASMBS Foundation. The trigger for such a survey was to better understand why patients may not be reaching out for surgery as has been clearly shown to be the most effective and long lasting treatment modality. The survey has indeed helped us to better understand the reasons and perceived barriers. Although the public perceives obesity to be a serious threat to their health, as serious as cancer, they view its treatment as their personal responsibility, thus not reaching out to physicians. Another concerning finding was when they do decide to see a physician, only 13 percent of physicians will recommend surgery as an optional treatment modality. In addition to the above mentioned, there are two added barriers to seek out surgical consultation,—fear and denial. Only 30 percent of the surveyed population believed that surgery is safe (the remaining 70% fear or have no clear idea about surgery). More concerning is the fact that only 40 percent of interviewed subjects that were considered to have severe obesity based on BMI greater than 35kg/m2 reported seeing themselves as affected by the obesity disease (their numbers are much lower than the ones reported by the national health agencies).
Publishing manuscripts in surgical journals demonstrating the safety and efficacy of bariatric surgery (regardless of the procedure) will not have an immediate impact on an increase in the number of patients that can find a cure to their obesity disease through surgery. We need to develop different strategies to better communicate, inform, and educate the public and the medical community. I strongly believe that a survey of this nature might be the beginning of such new approaches and look forward to continuing working with the ASMBS leadership to further develop new strategies.
I take this opportunity to wish all our readers a happy, successful, and healthy 2017 !
Raul J. Rosenthal, MD, FACS, FASMBS
1. Telem DA, Majid SF, Powers K, et al. Assessing national provision of care: variability in bariatric clinical care pathways. Surg Obes Relat Dis. 2016 Aug 3. [Epub ahead of print]
2. American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery (ASMBS), NORC at the University of Chicago. Obesity Rises to Top Health Concern for Americans, but Misperceptions Persist. October 2016. http://www.norc.org/PDFs/ASMBS%20Obesity/Issue%20Brief%20A_ASMBS%20NORC%20Obesity%20Poll.pdf. Accessed December 1, 2016.
3. American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery (ASMBS), NORC at the University of Chicago. New Insights into Americans’ Perceptions and Misperceptions of Obesity Treatments, and the Struggles Many Face. http://www.norc.org/PDFs/ASMBS%20Obesity/Issue%20Brief%20B_ASMBS%20NORC%20Obesity%20Poll.pdf. Accessed December 1, 2016.