Patients eligible and referred for bariatric surgery in southeastern Ontario: Retrospective cohort study. Academic Article uri icon

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  • OBJECTIVE: To evaluate the proportion of eligible individuals, within one health region in Ontario, who were referred for publicly funded medical and surgical weight-loss interventions (MSWLI). DESIGN: A retrospective cohort study that used primary care data from the Canadian Primary Care Sentinel Surveillance Network (CPCSSN) and referral data from the Ontario Bariatric Network (OBN). SETTING: Primary care practices within southeastern Ontario that contribute data to CPCSSN. PARTICIPANTS: Patients with class II (body mass index [BMI] 35.0 to 39.9 kg/m2) or III (BMI ≥ 40 kg/m2) obesity who were eligible for referral to the OBN for MSWLI. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: Primary care data about patients within the CPCSSN database were linked to referral records within the OBN database using 3 indirect identifiers to determine the proportion of patients with class II and III obesity who were referred to the OBN for MSWLI. An adjusted multivariate logistic regression model was used to determine the most significant predictors of referral. RESULTS: Of the 87 276 patients within one health region in Ontario, 15 526 (17.8%) patients had class II or III obesity and were eligible for referral for MSWLI. Only 966 out of those 15 526 (6.2%) patients were actually referred for MSWLI. In the multivariate regression analysis, BMI had the strongest association with referral in terms of adjusted odds ratio (AOR), varying from 2.50 (95% CI 2.04 to 3.06) for a BMI of 40.0 to 44.9 kg/m2, to 5.15 (95% CI 4.21 to 6.30) for a BMI of 50.0 kg/m2 or greater. Referral was more likely for female than male patients (AOR = 2.18; 95% CI 1.86 to 2.57), those living rurally than for urban dwellers (AOR = 1.39; 95% CI 1.20 to 1.60), and those aged 30 to 39 (AOR = 1.61; 95% CI 1.24 to 2.09) and 40 to 49 (AOR = 1.53; 95% CI 1.18 to 1.98) compared with other age groups. CONCLUSION: Within one health region in Ontario, the referral rate of patients with class II and III obesity for MSWLI was low. Our findings highlight the need for further research to understand and address the barriers to referral of patients with class II and III obesity for MSWLI.


  • Barber, David
  • Morkem, Rachael
  • Dalgarno, Nancy
  • Houlden, Robyn
  • Smith, Karen
  • Anvari, Mehran
  • Zevin, Boris

publication date

  • January 2021