Background: Work-related post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is an important condition encountered by many occupational health practitioners.
Aims: To carry out an in-depth review of the research on occupational groups that are at particular risk of developing work-related PTSD.
Methods: A literature search was conducted in the databases OVID MEDLINE, OVID Embase, Ovid PsycINFO, ISI Web of Science and CSA Health and Safety Science Abstracts.
Results: Professionals such as police officers, firefighters and ambulance personnel often experience incidents that satisfy the stressor criterion for the PTSD diagnosis. Other professional groups such as health care professionals, train drivers, divers, journalists, sailors and employees in bank, post offices or in stores may also be subjected to work-related traumatic events. Work-related PTSD usually diminishes with time.
Conclusions: Mental health problems prior to the traumatic event and weak social support increase the risk of PTSD. Prevention of work-related PTSD includes a sound organizational and psychosocial work environment, systematic training of employees, social support from colleagues and managers and a proper follow-up of employees after a critical event.