Do patients with hoarding disorder have autistic traits?

Authors

  • Alberto Pertusa M.D., Ph.D.,

    Corresponding author
    1. Department of Psychology, King's College London, Institute of Psychiatry, London, England
    • Department of Psychosis Studies, King's College London, Institute of Psychiatry, London, England
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  • Susanne Bejerot M.D., Ph.D.,

    1. Department of Clinical Neuroscience, Section of Psychiatry, Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm, Sweden
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  • Jonna Eriksson M.Sc.,

    1. Department of Clinical Neuroscience, Section of Psychiatry, Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm, Sweden
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  • Lorena Fernández de la Cruz M.Sc.,

    1. Department of Psychosis Studies, King's College London, Institute of Psychiatry, London, England
    2. Department of Psychology, King's College London, Institute of Psychiatry, London, England
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  • Sabina Bonde M.D.,

    1. Department of Clinical Neuroscience, Section of Psychiatry, Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm, Sweden
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  • Ailsa Russell Ph.D.,

    1. Department of Psychosis Studies, King's College London, Institute of Psychiatry, London, England
    2. Department of Psychology, King's College London, Institute of Psychiatry, London, England
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  • David Mataix-Cols Ph.D.

    1. Department of Psychosis Studies, King's College London, Institute of Psychiatry, London, England
    2. Department of Psychology, King's College London, Institute of Psychiatry, London, England
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  • The authors report they have no financial relationships within the past 3 years to disclose.

Correspondence to: Alberto Pertusa, King's College London, PO 69, Institute of Psychiatry, De Crespigny Park, London SE5 8AF, UK

Abstract

Background

Hoarding symptoms have been described in individuals with autism spectrum disorders (ASD). Furthermore, individuals with hoarding disorder (HD) may display some ASD-like features. In order to further refine the diagnostic boundaries of HD, we examined the presence of autistic traits and theory of mind deficits in individuals with HD and of hoarding behavior in patients with ASD.

Methods

Two hundred and twenty-one participants in five groups (HD, ASD, obsessive–compulsive disorder (OCD), anxiety disorders (AD), and healthy controls (HC)) were administered measures of autistic traits (Autism-Spectrum Quotient), theory of mind (eyes test-revised), and hoarding severity (saving inventory-revised; SI-R (add acronym)).

Results

Hoarders displayed more autistic traits compared to healthy individuals but not to psychiatric controls. Participants with ASD had significantly higher scores on the SI-R than both psychiatric (OCD or AD) and HC groups, indicating more severe hoarding behavior, but had lower scores than participants with HD. The presence of autistic traits in individuals with HD was related to the presence of comorbid OCD, but the presence of hoarding symptoms in individuals with ASD was unrelated to comorbid OCD.

Conclusions

We conclude that individuals with HD do not display more autistic traits than psychiatric controls, thus supporting its status as an independent diagnostic entity. More research is needed to further understand the phenomenology and clinical relevance of hoarding symptoms in ASD. Depression and Anxiety 0:1–9, 2011. © 2011 Wiley-Liss, Inc.

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