2002 OCF Grant

Compulsive hoarding among elderly people

Gail Steketee, PhD

Boston University (Boston, MA)

Award Amount: $25,000

Hoarding disorder (HD) was considered to be a subtype of OCD until the publication of the DSM-5 in 2013.

At the time of this study, relatively little was known about hoarding disorder (then considered a part of OCD), despite its negative personal, familial, and social effects. 

This study by Dr. Steketee and her team looked closely at the emotional, cognitive, and behavioral features of hoarding among elderly people, in order to inform more effective interventions. With a sample of 25 elderly participants with hoarding symptoms and 28 healthy controls, Dr. Steketee and her team found that older adults with hoarding symptoms were more likely to experience issues with personal hygiene and insight into their symptoms. A related publication showed that a home-based cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) course can be effective in reducing clutter and risky home situations, as well as improving functioning. This study eventually led to the provision of training to clinicians and elder service providers about how to help older adults with hoarding symptoms.

Resulting Publications:

*Steketee, G., Sorrentino-Schmalisch, C., Dierberger, A., DeNobel, D., & Frost, R.O. (2012). Symptoms and history of older people with compulsive hoarding. Journal of Obsessive-Compulsive and Related Disorders, 1, 1–7. doi:10.1016/j.jocrd.2011.10.001

Turner, K., Steketee, G. & Nauth, L. (2010). Treating elders with compulsive hoarding: A pilot program. Cognitive and Behavioral Practice, 17, 449-457. doi:10.1016/j.cbpra.2010.04.001