Socially Desirable Responding in the Preoperative Bariatric Surgery Psychological Evaluation
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Introduction: Prior to undergoing bariatric surgery, most patients are required to attend a pre-surgical psychological evaluation, which includes assessing potential behavioral risk factors for poor adherence or other post-operative difficulty in order to maximize postsurgical outcomes. Patients may respond in socially desirable ways to avoid psychological intervention or surgery delay. The current study aimed to assess the presence of social desirability within the bariatric pre-surgical evaluation, as there is limited research assessing the potential prevalence of this response style within the pre-surgical evaluation. Methods: Participants from the present study (n= 570) were members of one of two groups: the bariatric surgery group (n= 230), recruited in a private bariatric surgery practice, or the non-clinical group (n= 340), recruited online through Amazon's Mechanical Turk (mTurk). Both groups completed demographic questions, weight and diet history questions, the Marlowe Crowne Social Desirability Scale (MCSDS), and the Short Form Health Survey (SF-36). Results: The bariatric group demonstrated significantly higher socially desirable responding (M= 21.36, SD= 5.95) than the non-clinical group (M= 16.84, SD= 6.38; t (516)= 8.06,p < .001). When compared by BMI classification, socially desirable responding was significantly higher in the bariatric surgery group compared with the non-clinical groups. Socially desirable responding was associated with higher psychological wellness among all participants (Emotional Well-Being scale: r = .10, n= 515 p= .027; Role Limitations due to Emotional Problems scale: r= .52, n= 514,p < .001). There were significant differences between the bariatric group and BMI classified non-clinical groups regarding physical and psychological well-being. An exploration of the relationship between social desirability and BMI did not yield significant results, indicating socially desirable responding was not independently related to BMI. Conclusions: The results of this study suggest elevations of socially desirable responding within the bariatric surgery psychological evaluation, which may inhibit psychological symptom reporting. As the psychological evaluation is an opportunity for assessment and intervention, identifying social desirability may facilitate post-operative success.