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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Characterizing community hoarding cases Kysow, Kate


Understanding the complexity of hoarding cases is a challenge faced by clinicians and communities alike. Although classified as a mental disorder, the clutter generated by hoarding behaviours does not solely affect the individual; these behaviours are of great concern for society in general. The two approaches to assessing and responding to hoarding disorder taken by research and communities are considerably different. Research has focused on assessing the internal experience of those with hoarding disorder, as well as developing treatments to reduce hoarding behaviours. In contrast, communities across North America have been focused on assessing the public safety threats posed by hoarding cases and responding through a harm reduction approach. The current study bridged the gap between these approaches through a research collaboration with the Vancouver-based Hoarding Action Response Team. Due to the complexity of cases, community-based hoarding teams use a case-by-case approach to address hoarding-related problems. This study conducted a cluster analysis to identify subgroups of hoarding cases and propose intervention targets. Data were collected from the team’s work (e.g., health records, team triage meetings, fire data management system). The current study identified five clusters: Cohabiting in Squalor, Socially Engaged, Isolated at Home, Medically Complex, and Difficult to House. All clusters had a similar degree of clutter, but presented distinct challenges necessitating different interventions. Results from this study will lead to more efficient triaging, network coordination, and evidence-based decision-making on the part of policymakers.

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