Public Release: 

Miriam Hospital gets $1.3 milion NIH grant to study weight loss predictors following bariatric surgery

Data from the 3-year study will focus on understanding how to help maximize weight loss


PROVIDENCE, R.I. - The National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive Kidney Diseases (NIDDK) - part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) - has awarded a $1.3 million research project grant to The Miriam Hospital and Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center to use advanced monitoring technology to examine behavioral, psychosocial and environmental predictors of weight loss following bariatric surgery.

"Very little is known about why some people are more successful than others at keeping weight off after having bariatric surgery," said Dale Bond, Ph.D., lead researcher and faculty in the Department of Psychiatry and Human Behavior at The Miriam Hospital's Weight Control and Diabetes Research Center. "Behavioral factors are thought to be very influential, but guidelines for behavior changes among bariatric surgery patients are often vague and not well supported by scientific research. Our goal is to collect data to improve behavioral guidelines and help increase weight loss after bariatric surgery."

In this study, wristwatch-like sensor devices and smartphones will be used to measure factors such as eating and physical activity behavior, mood, hunger and cravings in approximately 100 bariatric surgery patients at the Miriam Hospital and also Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, a second data collection site for the study. Patients, who will be recruited beginning in early 2016, will be followed before surgery and four times over the year after surgery. Researchers will collect information about environmental factors, such as foods available to patients and support from family and friends, to assess which factors predict weight loss.

"The study is exciting because this could lead to improved behavioral guidelines and new behavioral treatments, strategies and tools to maximize weight loss after bariatric surgery," said Graham Thomas, Ph.D., also a lead researcher on the study and faculty in the Department of Psychiatry and Human Behavior at The Miriam Hospital's Weight Control and Diabetes Research Center.

This project is an extension of existing research Bond and Thomas have conducted using real-time data collection methodologies to analyze weight-related behaviors associated with bariatric surgery. That includes Bond's study of physical activity and sedentary behavior and Thomas' use of mobile health (mHealth) technology to measure and intervene on behaviors in real time.

"Not enough research has been conducted on behavioral, psychological, and environmental predictors of weight loss after bariatric surgery," added Bond. "This study will help to fill the gap using a unique and highly innovative mobile health platform combining sensor technology with a smartphone-based, self-reporting tool to measure behavioral, psychological and environmental predictors of weight loss continuously - in real time - in the patient's natural environment."

"Bariatric surgery is a powerful tool for weight loss," said Siva Vithiananthan, M.D., chief of minimally invasive and bariatric surgery at The Center for Bariatric Surgery, a program of Rhode Island and The Miriam Hospitals, also a researcher on the study. "By making key behavior changes, it may be possible for patients to get the greatest health benefit - and at the same time - we may have more information to better inform patients about steps they can take to boost weight loss after bariatric surgery."

In addition to their primary affiliation at The Miriam Hospital, Bond and Thomas are, respectively, associate professor and assistant professor of psychiatry and human behavior at The Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University. Other researchers in the study include E. Whitney Evans, Ph.D., R.D., at The Miriam Hospital, and from Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and Harvard Medical School: George Blackburn, M.D., Ph.D., S. Daniel Abraham, professor of nutrition, Daniel Jones, M.D., professor of surgery, and Jody Dushay, M.D., assistant professor of medicine.


About The Miriam Hospital

The Miriam Hospital is a 247-bed, not-for-profit teaching hospital affiliated with The Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University with expertise in cardiology, oncology, orthopedics, men's health, and minimally invasive surgery. It is home to the state's first Joint Commission-certified Stroke Center and robotic surgery program. Its Total Joint Center has earned The Joint Commission's Gold Seal of Approval for its total knee and hip replacement programs. The hospital, which received more than $23 million in external research funding last year, is nationally known for its HIV/AIDS and behavioral and preventive medicine research, including weight control, physical activity and smoking cessation. Named 2015-16 best regional hospital in Rhode Island and the Providence metro area by U.S. News & World Report, The Miriam Hospital has been awarded Magnet Recognition for Excellence in Nursing Services five times and is a founding member of the Lifespan health system. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter (@MiriamHospital) and Pinterest.

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