Academic journal article New Zealand Journal of Occupational Therapy

The Emerging Role of Occupational Therapists in the Assessment and Treatment of Compulsive Hoarding: An Exploratory Study

Academic journal article New Zealand Journal of Occupational Therapy

The Emerging Role of Occupational Therapists in the Assessment and Treatment of Compulsive Hoarding: An Exploratory Study

Article excerpt

Abstract

Introduction: Compulsive hoarding is known to impact upon occupational roles and routines. However, there is no published evidence on how occupational therapy can contribute to the management of hoarding. Method: A quantitative online survey was sent to occupational therapists employed in a Health Trust within the United Kingdom to establish their experience with hoarding, perspectives on the role of occupational therapy, and perceived training needs.

Results: Most of the respondents encountered hoarding in practice. Goal work, environmental modification, and developing organisational strategies were rated as most relevant to occupational therapy. Conclusion: Occupational therapists encounter hoarding across a range of clinical areas and believe there is a role for the profession.

Key words

Hoard, interventions, multidisciplinary, occupational therapy

Reference

Dissanayake, S., Barnard, E., & Willis, S. (2017). The Emerging Role of Occupational Therapists in the Assessment and Treatment of Compulsive Hoarding: An Exploratory Study. New Zealand Journal of Occupational Therapy, 64(2), 22-30.

The diagnosis and treatment of compulsive hoarding has until recently been poorly understood. However, studies in the United States and Europe have indicated a prevalence of hoarding symptoms in 2-5% of the population (Bratiotis, Schmalsich & Steketee, 2011). Compulsive hoarding is recognised to have a severe impact on all aspects of a person's occupational, vocational, and social functioning. It can also present significant environmental and health risks to the individual and others (Tolin, Frost, Steketee, Gray, & Fitch, 2008b). It is reported that various professions and agencies encounter hoarding in clinical practice, and a multidisciplinary team (MDT) approach is indicated to address its complexities (Koenig, Leiste, Spano, & Chapin, 2013; Tolin et al., 2008b).

As members of the MDT, occupational therapists work with individuals and communities to maximise participation in meaningful activities by modifying the task or the environment (World Federation of Occupational Therapists, 2012). It has been argued that occupational therapists encounter clients with hoarding issues in clinical practice, and that occupational therapy has a role to play in the assessment and treatment of hoarding (Dissanayake, 2012; Spear, 2014). In spite of this, there is no published research to date on the specific role of occupational therapy in the assessment and treatment of hoarding to inform clinical practice.

This exploratory study aimed to establish the extent to which occupational therapists encounter individuals who hoard in practice. The investigation also hoped to clarify the role and training needs in the assessment and treatment of compulsive hoarding, and identify future research priorities in this area.

Within the research sample of occupational therapists, the study aimed to answer the following questions:

* What proportion of occupational therapists have encountered hoarding in their clinical practice?

* In which clinical areas have occupational therapists encountered hoarding?

* Which type of assessments and interventions have occupational therapists undertaken for individuals who hoard?

* What is the role of occupational therapy in the assessment and treatment of compulsive hoarding?

* What are the training and support needs for occupational therapists working with individuals who hoard?

The databases PsychINFO, EMBASE and CINAHL were searched between the years 1990-2014, the search was later extended to 2016. The following search terms were used: occupational therapy and hoarding, hoarding, compulsive hoarding, hoard, collecting, clutter, possessions.

Literature Review

The literature search did not identify any specific research findings or occupational therapy textbooks referring to occupational therapy and hoarding. …

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