Poster Session
Issue Date: July 2015
Published Online: July 01, 2015
Updated: April 30, 2020
Home Health Professionals’ Encounters With Hoarders
Author Affiliations
  • Nova Southeastern University
  • Nova Southeastern University
Article Information
Health and Wellness / Multidisciplinary Practice / Health Services Research and Education
Poster Session   |   July 01, 2015
Home Health Professionals’ Encounters With Hoarders
American Journal of Occupational Therapy, July 2015, Vol. 69, 6911510135.
American Journal of Occupational Therapy, July 2015, Vol. 69, 6911510135.

Date Presented 4/17/2015

This study of home health professionals’ encounters with hoarders provides preliminary data and insight into hoarding in Florida. These findings will help occupational therapists (OTs) and interprofessional teams working with hoarders to develop programs, assessment tools, and interventions to improve services to hoarders.

RATIONALE/BACKGROUND: This study supports an emerging occupational therapy area of practice: hoarding and hoarders. The authors are founding members of the Broward Hoarding Task Force in Florida, which includes mental health professionals, health care practitioners, service providers, first responders, and so forth. The task force has provided educational workshops and programs for service providers and hoarders and is developing interprofessional resources to identify, treat, and assist hoarders.
SIGNIFICANCE: Hoarding is associated with significant functional impairment due to the effects of clutter on space used for daily activities; therefore, this study is important to better understand hoarding encounters by home health occupational therapists (OTs) and physical therapists (PTs) and to help determine the prevalence of hoarders in Florida. There is little evidence for the prevalence of hoarding, except for national and state estimates, and no data of hoarding in the state of Florida exist.
INNOVATION: This study provides exploratory descriptive data about hoarding in Florida through home health care professionals’ experiences and observations. A survey of home health professionals at a large home health care agency in the state of Florida was conducted. The purpose of the study was to determine (1) the frequency of encounters with hoarders by licensed home health care professionals; (2) action(s) taken by the health professional or barriers to taking action; and (3) the types of hoarding-related services, resources, and programs recommended or identified.
METHOD: This study used a descriptive survey questionnaire design. Participants included 73 non-nursing-home health care professionals (57.6% PTs/physical therapist assistants [PTAs] and 31.5% OTs/occupational therapist assistants [OTAs]). The survey instrument measured the frequency of hoarding encounters, home health professionals’ actions and barriers to taking action during the visit and after the visit, and their identified need for resources and services to improve their ability to assist hoarder clients. Categories of questions include health and safety, actions taken on the initial visit, actions taken on follow-up visits, barriers to taking action, and recommendations to help improve their services to hoarders. Analytical methods used included descriptive statistics frequency calculations and Spearman rho correlational analysis between profession and number of encounters/action taken/perceived barriers to taking action. All data analysis was conducted on IBM SPSS Statistics Version 21.
RESULTS: Of the participants, 88% encountered hoarders on their home visits. Participants observed a number of health/safety risks in the home, from home neglect to an abundance of combustible material, narrow passageways, bad odors, and excess trash. About half of the participants reported taking no action to the observed hoarding problem, r = .373, p < .001; however, significant correlations exist between “Profession” and “Talking about the hoarding and health risks (with their clients),” r = .291, p = .014. Significant correlations also exist between “No action taken” and “Were there Barriers to taking action?—Yes,” r = .356, p < .01; between “Barriers to taking action” and “Having no training in what to do,” r = .277, p < .05; between “Barriers” and “Lack of time, r = .318, p < .01; between “Barriers” and “Not sure who to contact,” r = .276, p < .05; and between “Barriers” and “Lack of resources,” r = .307, p < .01.