Alberto Pertusa

King's College London, London, ENG, United Kingdom

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Publications (20)89.23 Total impact

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    ABSTRACT: Hoarding disorder is a new mental disorder in DSM-5. It is classified alongside OCD and other presumably related disorders in the Obsessive-Compulsive and Related Disorders chapter. We examined cognitive performance in two distinct groups comprising individuals with both OCD and severe hoarding, and individuals with hoarding disorder without comorbid OCD. Participants completed executive function tasks assessing inhibitory control, cognitive flexibility, spatial planning, probabilistic learning and reversal and decision making. Compared to a matched healthy control group, OCD hoarders showed significantly worse performance on measures of response inhibition, set shifting, spatial planning, probabilistic learning and reversal, with intact decision making. Despite having a strikingly different clinical presentation, individuals with only hoarding disorder did not differ significantly from OCD hoarders on any cognitive measure suggesting the two hoarding groups have a similar pattern of cognitive difficulties. Tests of cognitive flexibility were least similar across the groups, but differences were small and potentially reflected subtle variation in underlying brain pathology together with psychometric limitations. These results highlight both commonalities and potential differences between OCD and hoarding disorder, and together with other lines of evidence, support the inclusion of the new disorder within the new Obsessive-Compulsive and Related Disorders chapter in DSM-5.
    Psychiatry research. 12/2013;
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    ABSTRACT: Hoarding disorder is typified by persistent difficulties discarding possessions, resulting in significant clutter that obstructs the individual's living environment and produces considerable functional impairment. The prevalence of hoarding disorder, as defined in DSM-5, is currently unknown. To provide a prevalence estimate specific to DSM-5 hoarding disorder and to delineate the demographic, behavioural and health features that characterise individuals with the disorder. We conducted a two-wave epidemiological study of 1698 adult individuals, originally recruited via the South East London Community Health (SELCoH) study. Participants screening positively for hoarding difficulties in wave 1, and who agreed to be re-contacted for wave 2 (n = 99), underwent in-home psychiatric interviews and completed a battery of self-report questionnaires. Current DSM-5 diagnoses were made via consensus diagnostic procedure. In total, 19 individuals met DSM-5 criteria for hoarding disorder at the time of interview, corresponding to a weighted prevalence of 1.5% (95% CI 0.7-2.2). Those with hoarding disorder were older and more often unmarried (67%). Members of this group were also more likely to be impaired by a current physical health condition (52.6%) or comorbid mental disorder (58%), and to claim benefits as a result of these issues (47.4%). Individuals with hoarding disorder were also more likely to report lifetime use of mental health services, although access in the past year was less frequent. With a lower-bound prevalence of approximately 1.5%, hoarding disorder presents as a condition that affects people of both genders and is associated with substantial adversity.
    The British journal of psychiatry: the journal of mental science 10/2013; · 6.62 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Experiential avoidance can be defined as the tendency to avoid contact with unwanted internal experiences. Current conceptualizations of pathological hoarding appear broadly consistent with an experiential avoidant model. Eighty participants in four groups, namely hoarding disorder (HD) without comorbid obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), HD with comorbid OCD, non-hoarding OCD, and healthy controls, were administered measures of experiential avoidance and emotion regulation difficulties. Hoarding individuals reported higher levels of experiential avoidance and difficulties in emotion regulation compared to healthy but not to OCD participants. Both experiential avoidance and emotion regulation difficulties were significantly more prominent when HD was comorbid with OCD than when HD occurred without comorbid OCD. Correlation analyses further showed that both experiential avoidance and emotion regulation were moderately but significantly associated with obsessive-compulsive but not hoarding symptoms. Thus, experiential avoidance and emotion regulation difficulties are not specifically relevant to HD but to a broad range of psychopathologies. However, despite the lack of specificity, the findings raise some potentially useful clinical implications for the treatment of HD.
    Journal of anxiety disorders 02/2013; 27(2):204-209. · 2.68 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Background: Hoarding is associated with significant impairment. Although traditionally considered as a symptom of obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), some authors have proposed that pathological hoarding could be considered as a stand alone condition. The prevalence of pathological hoarding behaviour has been shown to be high in some countries, but little is known about the prevalence and correlates of hoarding in the non-clinical population in Italy. Method: We studied the prevalence of self-reported hoarding behaviour using the Italian version of the Saving Inventory-Revised, as well as the association between hoarding and various clinical correlates, including obsessive-compulsive symptoms, compulsive buying, anxiety, and depression. Results: The prevalence of pathological hoarding behaviour in two studies was between 3.7 and 6.0%. No differences were found between hoarding and non-hoarding participants with regard to gender, age, marital status, level of education, and employment status. Significant correlations were found between compulsive hoarding and obsessive-compulsive symptoms and also between hoarding and a measure of compulsive buying, even after controlling for anxiety and depressive symptoms. Conclusions: These results indicate that pathological hoarding may also be prevalent in Italy and highlight the need for further epidemiological studies using validated instruments to assess hoarding disorder.
    Behavioural and Cognitive Psychotherapy 01/2013; · 1.69 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: INTRODUCTION: Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is a heterogeneous condition, which can be expressed as various symptom dimensions, including contamination/cleaning and symmetry/ordering. Previous research suggests that these obsessive-compulsive (OC) dimensions may show specific associations with certain traits such as disgust sensitivity and "not just right" experiences (NJREs), but whether a familial association between these variables exists is unknown. OBJECTIVES: The goal of this study was to test whether parental disgust sensitivity and NJREs predicted contamination/cleaning and symmetry/ordering respectively in the offspring. METHOD: Contamination/cleaning, symmetry/ordering, disgust sensitivity, NJREs, and negative affect were assessed in a nonclinical sample (n = 184 triads comprising 184 female undergraduates and their parents). Associations between parental and offspring variables were investigated by means of bivariate correlations and multiple regression models, controlling for relevant variables. RESULTS: Neither disgust sensitivity nor NJREs in parents were significant predictors of contamination/cleaning or symmetry/ordering in the offspring. CONCLUSIONS: Combined with previous research, our results suggest that the best familial predictors of OC symptom dimensions are the same symptom dimensions themselves.
    Journal of Clinical Psychology 05/2012; · 2.12 Impact Factor
  • John Snowdon, Alberto Pertusa, David Mataix-Cols
    Depression and Anxiety 05/2012; 29(5):417-24. · 4.61 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: 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. 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)). 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. 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 11/2011; 29(3):210-8. · 4.61 Impact Factor
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    David Mataix-Cols, Alberto Pertusa
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    ABSTRACT: The inclusion of a new mental disorder in the nomenclature is not a trivial matter. Many have highlighted the risks of an ever-increasing number of mental disorders and of overpathologizing human behaviour. Given the proposed inclusion of a new hoarding disorder (HD) in DSM-5 (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, fifth edition), it is pertinent to discuss the potential benefits and pitfalls of such a development. In this article, we examine whether HD fits with the current DSM-IV (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, fourth edition) and proposed DSM-5 definitions of 'mental disorder'. We next discuss the potential benefits and risks of the creation of this diagnosis. Finally, we address some additional considerations that may arise when proposing a new disorder for the nomenclature and identify some of the gaps in the knowledge base.   HD fits the current DSM-IV and proposed DSM-5 definitions for a mental disorder. On balance, the potential benefits of creating the new diagnosis (e.g. identification of the majority of cases who clearly suffer and need help but are currently missed out by the existing diagnostic categories) outweigh the potential harms (e.g. pathologizing normal behaviour). Whether the criteria will need modification for their use in children/adolescents is unclear and more research is needed to address this question.
    Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry 09/2011; 53(5):608-18. · 5.42 Impact Factor
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    American Journal of Medical Genetics Part B Neuropsychiatric Genetics 03/2011; 156(2):240-2. · 3.23 Impact Factor
  • David Mataix-Cols, Alberto Pertusa, John Snowdon
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    ABSTRACT: Hoarding can be a symptom of multiple neurological and psychiatric disorders, including obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). Recent evidence suggests that, in many cases, hoarding can also be a standalone problem that presents independently from other conditions; this has led to the proposal of a new diagnostic entity named hoarding disorder. This article reviews the neuropsychological and neuroimaging research on pathological hoarding. Most research in humans has been conducted in the context of individuals with brain damage, dementia, or OCD. Studies of well-characterized samples of individuals with hoarding disorder are extremely rare. Although not possible to establish firm conclusions at this stage, we conclude with a series of observations and recommendations for clinical practice.
    Journal of Clinical Psychology 02/2011; 67(5):467-76. · 2.12 Impact Factor
  • Alberto Pertusa, Randy O Frost, David Mataix-Cols
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    ABSTRACT: Hoarding, the excessive collection and failure to discard objects of apparently little value, can represent a serious psychiatric problem and pose a threat to public health. Hoarding has traditionally been considered a symptom (or symptom dimension) of Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD), but its nosological status has recently been debated. Mounting evidence suggests that, once other primary causes are ruled out, hoarding may be a discrete diagnostic entity, recently named Hoarding Disorder. However, hoarding can sometimes be a genuine OCD symptom. This can be confusing and clinicians may sometimes struggle making the differential diagnosis. To illustrate this, we describe 10 OCD patients with severe hoarding behavior that is better conceptualized as a symptom of OCD. We focus on the motivations for hoarding and the overlapping of hoarding with other obsessive-compulsive symptom dimensions. We estimate that this clinical presentation is relatively rare and accounts for a minority of severe hoarding cases. We discuss the unique characteristics of hoarding as a symptom of OCD and the implications for DSM-V.
    Behaviour research and therapy 10/2010; 48(10):1012-20. · 3.00 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Traumatic life events and early material deprivation have been identified as potential environmental risk factors for the development of pathological hoarding behavior, but the evidence so far is preliminary and confounded by the presence of comorbid obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). This study retrospectively examined the occurrence of traumatic/stressful life events and material deprivation in four well-characterized groups: hoarding disorder without comorbid OCD (HD; n=24), hoarding disorder with comorbid OCD (HD+OCD; n=20), OCD without hoarding symptoms (OCD; n=17), and non-clinical controls (Control; n=20). Participants completed clinician and self-administered measures of hoarding, OCD, depression, psychological adjustment, and traumatic experience. Semi-structured interviews were undertaken to assess the temporal relation between traumatic/stressful life events and the onset and worsening of hoarding symptoms, and to determine the level of material deprivation. Although rates of post-traumatic stress disorder were comparable across all three clinical groups, hoarders (regardless of the presence of comorbid OCD) reported greater exposure to a range of traumatic and stressful life events compared to the two non-hoarding groups. Results remained unchanged after controlling for age, gender, education level, depression, and obsessive-compulsive symptoms. The total number of traumatic life events correlated significantly with the severity of hoarding but not of obsessive-compulsive symptoms. About half (52%) of hoarding individuals linked the onset of hoarding difficulties to stressful life circumstances, although this was significantly less common among those reporting early childhood onset of hoarding behavior. There was no link between levels of material deprivation and hoarding. Results support a link between trauma, life stress and hoarding, which may help to inform the conceptualization and treatment of hoarding disorder, but await confirmation in a representative epidemiological sample and using a longitudinal design.
    Journal of anxiety disorders 09/2010; 25(2):192-202. · 2.68 Impact Factor
  • Joaquim Radua, Alberto Pertusa, Narcis Cardoner
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    ABSTRACT: Studies on the relationship between climate and unipolar depression rates have yielded mixed results, which could be attributed to the inclusion of heterogeneous clinical samples and the use of admission rather than onset dates. This study aimed to overcome these methodological issues. During an 8-year timeframe, onset rates of unipolar depressive episodes requiring hospitalization from individuals living up to 15 km from a selected meteorological station were stratified by clinical subtypes and modeled as Autoregressive Integrated Moving Average (ARIMA) functions of orthogonal climatic factors obtained by Principal Components Analysis (PCA). For comparison purposes, onset rates stratified by demographic factors and by diagnosis of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) and admission rates were also modeled. The main findings were a negative 1-month delayed relationship between onset rates of episodes with melancholic features and a climatic factor mainly composed of ambient temperature/sunlight, and a negative 1-month delayed relationship between onset rates of episodes with psychotic features and a climatic factor mainly composed of barometric pressure. Results of this study support a climatic-rather than seasonal-influence in specific subtypes of depression. If replicated, they may have nosological and therapeutic implications.
    Psychiatry Research 02/2010; 175(3):217-20. · 2.68 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Like most human behaviors, saving and collecting possessions can range from totally normal and adaptive to excessive or pathological. Hoarding, or compulsive hoarding, are some of the more commonly used terms to refer to this excessive form of collectionism. Hoarding is highly prevalent and, when severe, it is associated with substantial functional disability and represents a great burden for the sufferers, their families, and society in general. It is generally considered difficult to treat. Hoarding can occur in the context of a variety of neurological and psychiatric conditions. Although it has frequently been considered a symptom (or symptom dimension) of obsessive-compulsive disorder, and is listed as one of the diagnostic criteria for obsessive-compulsive personality disorder, its diagnostic boundaries are still a matter of debate. Recent data suggest that compulsive hoarding can also be a standalone problem. Growing evidence from epidemiological, phenomenological, neurobiological, and treatment studies suggests that compulsive hoarding may be best classified as a discrete disorder with its own diagnostic criteria.
    Clinical psychology review 02/2010; 30(4):371-86. · 7.18 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The Dimensional Yale-Brown Obsessive-Compulsive Scale (DY-BOCS) is a promising new instrument that allows patient and clinician ratings of dimension-specific symptom severity, as well as estimates of global symptom severity in patients with obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). The goal of this study was to further explore the psychometric properties of the DY-BOCS in a Spanish sample. The internal consistency, reliability, and convergent and divergent validity of the Spanish adaptation of the DY-BOCS were assessed in a sample of 51 Spanish adult patients with OCD. All the subscales of the Spanish DY-BOCS showed high internal consistency. The interrater reliability was excellent for all component scores, and the level of agreement between self-report and expert ratings was high for most symptom dimensions. The subscales of the DY-BOCS were largely independent from one another and from global OCD severity. The convergent and divergent validities of the DY-BOCS subscales were adequate. The Spanish version of the DY-BOCS is a reliable and valid clinical tool for the assessment of obsessive-compulsive symptom dimensions.
    Comprehensive psychiatry 01/2010; 51(6):641-8. · 2.08 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Although clinical and genetic data for obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) support the hypothesis of sexual dimorphism, the neuropsychological findings remain inconclusive. The aim of our study was to determine whether there are differences in cognitive performance between men and women with OCD as compared with healthy controls (HCs). A neuropsychological battery was administered to 50 patients with OCD (31 men and 19 women) and 50 HCs matched by sex, age, and educational level with patients. We evaluated intelligence, attention, episodic memory, and use of organizational strategies during encoding of verbal and nonverbal information. Male patients scored worse than controls did in measures of nonverbal memory tasks, whereas the cognitive performance of women with OCD was consistent with that of their HC counterparts. These results suggest a distinct pattern of cognitive dysfunction specific to the patients' sex.
    Comprehensive psychiatry 01/2010; 51(3):303-11. · 2.08 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is a heterogeneous condition, which can be expressed as various potentially overlapping symptom dimensions. In clinical samples, some of these dimensions are associated with increased familial risk for OCD and appear to be familial (intercorrelated within pairs of affected family members), whereas others are not. The goal of this study was to determine whether obsessive-compulsive (OC) symptom dimensions are familial in a nonclinical sample. OC symptom dimensions and negative affect were assessed in 184 female undergraduate students and their parents using the Obsessive-Compulsive Inventory-Revised (OCI-R) and the Positive and Negative Affect Scales, respectively. Bivariate correlations and multiple regression models controlling for age and negative affect were employed to examine the familiarity of OC symptom dimensions. The OCI-R total scores were significantly correlated in both mother-daughter and father-daughter dyads but the magnitude of these correlations tended to be greater for the mother-daughter dyads. Multiple regression models showed that the Ordering and Hoarding subscales of the OCI-R breed true in mother-daughter dyads. Ordering scores in mothers were also predictive of other symptoms in the daughters (Washing and Checking). These results are broadly consistent with the findings in clinical samples and suggest that Ordering and Hoarding are more strongly familial than other symptom dimensions and that high Ordering scores in mothers are associated with increased levels of symptoms in daughters in a less specific manner.
    Depression and Anxiety 10/2009; 26(10):902-8. · 4.61 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Compulsive hoarding is a debilitating problem that is often associated with obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) and obsessive-compulsive personality disorder. However, the precise nosology of compulsive hoarding has yet to be determined. Participants were 25 patients with severe compulsive hoarding with OCD and 27 patients with severe compulsive hoarding without OCD. Both groups were carefully characterized and compared on the following sociodemographic and clinical variables: precise phenomenology of hoarding behavior, severity of other OCD symptoms, axis I and axis II psychopathology, and adaptive functioning. For comparison purposes, the following individuals were also recruited: 71 patients with OCD without hoarding, 19 patients with anxiety disorder, and 21 community participants. Overall, the phenomenology of hoarding behavior was similar in the two hoarding groups. The majority of participants in both groups reported hoarding common items as a result of their emotional and/or intrinsic value. However, approximately one-fourth of participants in the compulsive hoarding with OCD group showed a different psychopathological profile, which was characterized by the hoarding of bizarre items and the presence of other obsessions and compulsions related to their hoarding, such as fear of catastrophic consequences, the need to perform checking rituals, and the need to perform mental compulsions before discarding any item. These patients had a more severe and disabling form of the disorder. The strong relationship between compulsive hoarding and obsessive-compulsive personality disorder was explained entirely by the overlapping item content. In most individuals, compulsive hoarding appears to be a syndrome separate from OCD, which is associated with substantial levels of disability and social isolation. However, in other individuals, compulsive hoarding may be considered a symptom of OCD and has unique clinical features. These findings have implications for the classification of OCD and compulsive hoarding in the next edition of DSM.
    American Journal of Psychiatry 06/2008; 165(10):1289-98. · 14.72 Impact Factor
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    American Journal of Psychiatry 10/2007; 164(9):1313-4. · 14.72 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Poor insight has been reported in 15% to 36% of patients with obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), but little is known about its clinical correlations. This study examines insight among patients with OCD using a standardized instrument, the Brown Assessment of Beliefs Scale, and analyzes its relationship with clinical factors. Insight was assessed in 132 patients with OCD, before and after pharmacologic treatment, using the Brown Assessment of Beliefs Scale. Differences between patients with good and poor insight on sociodemographic variables, OCD severity, comorbidity, and treatment response were studied. Stability of insight after pharmacologic treatment was also examined. Thirty-nine patients (29.5%) exhibited poor insight. They showed more depressive symptoms (P = .001) and personality disorders (P = .001), especially the schizotypal form, than did good insight subjects, but there were no significant differences in treatment response. Insight significantly improves after treatment (P < .001). Our results suggest that insight in OCD varies widely and constitutes a dynamic phenomenon that can improve after treatment and is influenced by clinical conditions such as affective status or personality.
    Comprehensive Psychiatry 03/2007; 49(3):305-12. · 2.38 Impact Factor

Publication Stats

341 Citations
89.23 Total Impact Points

Institutions

  • 2008–2013
    • King's College London
      • • Institute of Psychiatry
      • • Department of Psychological Medicine
      London, ENG, United Kingdom
  • 2012
    • University of Sydney
      • Discipline of Psychiatry
      Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
  • 2009
    • Autonomous University of Barcelona
      Cerdanyola del Vallès, Catalonia, Spain