Introduction: Robbery at the place of work is one of the most common traumatic events in both developed and developing countries. Italy is one of the European countries with a medium-to-high prevalence and pharmacy and bank employees are particularly at risk. Research on the psychological effects on workers who are victims of robbery is scarce when compared with traditional trauma studies.
Objective: To assess the association between workplace robbery, Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), quality of life and work ability in a sample of Italian pharmacy workers.
Methods: 136 pharmacy workers--90 robbery victims and 46 non-victims--were recruited from the Milan area. They completed a questionnaire including: socio-demographic characteristics, robbery history and description, a self-report version of the Clinician Administered PTSD Scale (CAPS-I), General Health Questionnaire (GHQ), Beck Depression Inventory (BDI), Work Ability Index (WAI), Short Form 36 Health Survey Questionnaire (SF-36).
Results: No differences were found between victims and non-victims for GHQ and BDL; WAI scores of victims were significantly lower than non-victims. Exposure to robberies was associated with lower WAI in a multivariate analysis; 10 victims reported PTSD and much lower WAI and SF-36, higher GHQ and BDI than non-PTSD victims.
Conclusions: Workplace robbery has a mild but long-lasting effect on workers' ability to work. For a significant proportion of victims, robbery exposure is associated with the onset of PTSD, with increased risk for severe and long-lasting impairment of emotional well-being, quality of life and work ability. Early intervention programmes at the workplaces aimed at promoting a more rapid recovery after a traumatic event are needed.