January 2021

Since October 2018, the Brain Health Registry has been collaborating with a group of researchers, led by Dr. Carol Mathews at the University of Florida.

This collaboration has generated exciting new research publications that we’d like to share!

Online assessments for evaluating hoarding behaviors

 

Hoarding disorder is a psychiatric condition characterized by difficulty throwing away personal possessions. This can impair a person’s day-to-day functioning and endanger their mental and physical health.

Hoarding disorder is often diagnosed using structured interviews in clinical settings. Often, assessments like the Hoarding Rating Scale, a 5-item questionnaire, are used to evaluate the presence and severity of hoarding symptoms.

Researchers at the University of Florida and the Brain Health Registry wanted to see whether it was feasible to administer the Hoarding Rating Scale, Self-Report to over 23,000 BHR participants online and at home, rather than in the clinic with a clinician/assessor.

Brain Health Registry Newsletter – January 2021, UCSF Brain Health Registry

About 1,200 individuals completed additional remote assessments, and another 230 underwent clinical interviews. The researchers found that the online assessments and clinical interviews yielded nearly identical results. This suggests that the online Hoarding Rating Scale is a useful and valid tool for assessing hoarding symptoms remotely.

“As participation in online research continues to increase, ensuring the availability of accurate and efficient assessments of hoarding symptoms can help identify individuals with at-risk hoarding behaviors in the population,” said Sara Nutley, a PhD student in the Department of Epidemiology at the University of Florida, and the lead author of the new study. “This will improve our ability to identify those that may benefit from additional diagnostic tools or therapies.”

Hoarding disorder and other medical conditions

 

In a separate study that used data collected from about 20,700 Brain Health Registry participants, University of Florida and BHR researchers found that individuals with hoarding symptoms had a greater likelihood of having other medical issues, compared to individuals without hoarding symptoms.

Brain Health Registry Newsletter – January 2021, UCSF Brain Health Registry

These medical issues included sleep disorders, cardiovascular and metabolic issues, and psychiatric conditions like depression and obsessive-compulsive disorder.This research facilitates a clearer understanding of the relationship between hoarding symptoms and physical and mental health. It could also help scientists learn to distinguish between hoarding disorder and other similar-looking conditions.

Scientists are finally making headway in understanding hoarding disorder. Dr. Mathews has also published a comprehensive book on hoarding disorder:  Recognizing and Treating Hoarding Disorder. This breakthrough work delves into the condition’s epidemiology, underlying neurobiology, methods for diagnosis and treatment, and much more.

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