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Hoarding Research

Hoarding disorder is characterised by a difficulty to discard possessions because of a perception they should be saved. Hoarding behaviours can cause significant distress and negatively affect a person's life.  

The factors underlying this disorder are not fully understood, it can be a symptom of another condition or associated with self-neglect. Due to the high social and economic costs of hoarding behaviours, there is an urgent need for improved understanding of the causes and consequences of the disease, and for high-quality, cross-cutting research to devise individually tailored intervention strategies to reduce its impact.  

The Hoarding Research group is a multidisciplinary effort which together brings academics from the North-East Universities, stakeholders from the Local Authorities, Housing Associations, Charities, Social Care Services, Mental Health Services, the NHS, and Emergency Services.  

Our aim is to develop a better understanding of Hoarding Disorder and explore the impact of this disorder on the individual and society. Due to the high economic and social costs of hoarding behaviours there is an urgent need for improved understanding of the causes and consequences, and for high-quality multi-disciplinary research to devise individually tailored intervention strategies to reduce its impact. 

The Group comprises seven Working Groups, each focusing on a particular issue in relation to hoarding behaviours, these comprise: 

  • Self-neglect, safeguarding, mental capacity and legal aspects of hoarding 
  • Psychometric, cognitive and neuropsychological aspects of hoarding  
  • Multi-agency approaches to hoarding 
  • Cybersecurity implications of digital hoarding behaviours  
  • Clinical interventions and therapeutic approaches to hoarding  
  • Animal hoarding 
  • Personal risk, family, social and environmental impacts of hoarding 

Current areas of research include:    

  • Researchers are investigating the relationship between digital hoarding and cybersecurity, particularly in the context of GDPR 
  • Possible links between hoarding and undiagnosed autism spectrum disorder are being assessed 
  • The social and psychological characteristics of animal hoarding are being examined by PhD researcher Justine Wilkinson, who is gathering data on the incidence, characteristics and economic costs  
  • Research is also underway exploring hoarding disorder in relation to psychosis, children, and multi-agency approaches 

News and media 

Digital hoarders: we’ve identified four types – which are you? 


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