Document Type



Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Social Work

First Advisor's Name

Eric F. Wagner

First Advisor's Committee Title

Committee chair

Second Advisor's Name

Miriam Potocky

Second Advisor's Committee Title

committee member

Third Advisor's Name

Nicole Ruggiano

Third Advisor's Committee Title

committee member

Fourth Advisor's Name

Mark B. Padilla

Fourth Advisor's Committee Title

committee member

Fifth Advisor's Name

Sarah E. Messiah

Fifth Advisor's Committee Title

committee member


bariatric surgery, alcohol, addiction, young adult

Date of Defense



Bariatric, or weight loss, surgery (WLS) is known as the most effective treatment for severe obesity, and the number of bariatric surgeries performed in the United States has more than tripled over the past two decades. Despite the potential health benefits of WLS (i.e., reversal of type 2 diabetes), research has revealed problematic alcohol use among WLS patients, in part associated with the following risk factors: the prevalence of a lifetime alcohol use disorder (AUD), the Roux-en-Y gastric bypass (RYGB) procedure, younger age, and an increased post-surgical sensitivity to alcohol. There is reason to believe both (a) young adult and (b) racial/ethnic minority bariatric surgery patients could be particularly prone to problematic drinking post-surgery, as both demographic groups represent an elevated risk of problematic alcohol use in the general population. Despite this, to date, there has been no in-depth assessment of alcohol use among young adult WLS patients. This dissertation utilized a sequential exploratory mixed methods design to examine alcohol use among young adult, racially/ethnically diverse WLS patients. Descriptive and inferential analyses examined alcohol use patterns and predictors of problematic alcohol use for 69 young adults who had WLS. Nearly one quarter of the sample (24.6%, n=17) reported an increase in alcohol use after WLS. Age, time since surgery, the RYGB procedure, and having a pre-operative alcohol use disorder (AUD) when entered into the model together, were not a predictive model of frequency of alcohol use or problematic alcohol use after WLS (F [4, 64] = 2.3, p=.067). However, the diagnosis of a pre-operative AUD was associated with an increased frequency of alcohol use post WLS, holding all other predictors constant (p





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