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Background

The COVID-19 pandemic increased challenges to bariatric patients' strict diet and exercise regimen, increasing reliance on social support and effective coping strategies for post-operative success. Social support and adaptive coping can be effective in the prevention and treatment of weight recurrence. Social support is associated with increased weight loss in bariatric patients and has been perceived by patients as necessary for effective post-operative care. The objective of this study is to investigate perceived social support and coping methods among bariatric patients and its association with weight during the COVID-19 pandemic. Adults (n=99) who underwent bariatric surgery prior to March 2020 completed a self-report questionnaire regarding coping strategies and perceived support during the COVID-19 pandemic. Respondents reported a wide range of weight recurrence (0.00 - 31.40 kg) from their lowest recorded weight. Participants also reported a high level of perceived social support, but it was not significantly associated with weight recurrence. Problem-focused coping strategies were significantly associated with weight recurrence (r=0.21, p=0.04), possibly due to an increase in weight prompting patients to engage in problem-focused coping. Weight recurrence was also significantly associated with venting (r=0.21, p=0.04), behavioral disengagement (r=0.20 p=0.048), and planning (r=0.30, p=0.003) coping methods during the pandemic. Our findings suggest that utilization of problem-focused coping methods are associated with weight recurrence regardless of perceived social support. Understanding which coping methods are associated with better post-operative health outcomes (such as increased weight loss) will help clinicians better counsel patients on how to address stressors they may encounter post-operatively.