What do we know about hoarding behaviour and treatment approaches for older people? A thematic review

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Hoarding behaviour is complex and not always easy to understand. Over the years, several clinical terms have been used in relation to hoarding behaviour, such as clutter(ing), squalor, or Diogenes syndrome. These terms are used to describe the excessive accumulation of items and possessions in people’s homes. Hoarding behaviour can lead to dangerous circumstances such as unhygienic living conditions, greater risk of falls, increased risk of injury in fires, homelessness, and even death, as well as harm to other people. Hoarding behaviour was classified as a distinct mental health disorder in the ‘Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders: DSM-5’ (American Psychiatric Association, 2013) and, recently, in the ‘International Classification of Diseases’ (World Health Organization, 2021).

The aim of this thematic literature review is to provide an overview of research findings and debates for researchers, practitioners, and other interested parties, and to inform our wider study on social care responses to self-neglect and hoarding behaviour among older people in England. This review explores theories about and definitions of hoarding behaviour and hoarding disorder, known causes for and risk factors associated with hoarding behaviour. It also presents research findings on age of onset, progression, severity and prevalence of hoarding behaviour among older people. It also provides information on what is known about treatment and interventions, including therapeutic approaches, community-based schemes, and medication. Another section explores critical perspectives on hoarding behaviour discourses. Finally, the review offers some conclusions and considerations for practice.
Study page: https://www.kcl.ac.uk/research/self-neglect-and-hoarding-among-older-people
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationLondon
PublisherNIHR Policy Research Unit in Health and Social Care Workforce, The Policy Institute, King's College London
Publication statusPublished - 26 May 2022


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