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PURPOSE: Urban violence is a major problem in Brazil and may contribute to mental disorders among victims. The aim of this study was to assess the association between robbery victimisation and mental health disorders in late adolescence. METHODS: At age 18 years, 4106 participants in the 1993 Pelotas Birth Cohort Study were assessed. A questionnaire about history of robbery victimisation was administered, the Self-Report Questionnaire was used to screen for common mental disorders, and the Mini International Neuropsychiatric Interview was used to assess major depressive disorder and generalised anxiety disorder. Cross-sectional prevalence ratios between lifetime robbery victimisation and mental disorders were estimated using Poisson regression with robust standard errors, adjusting for socioeconomic variables measured at birth and violence in the home and maltreatment measured at age 15. RESULTS: There was a dose-response relationship between frequency of lifetime robberies and risk of mental disorders. Adolescents who had been robbed three or more times had twice the risk (PR 2.04; 95% CI 1.64-2.56) for common mental disorders, over four times the risk for depression (PR 4.59; 95% CI 2.60-8.12), and twice the risk for anxiety (PR 1.93; 95% CI 1.06-3.50), compared with non-victims, adjusting for covariates. Experiencing frequent robberies had greater impact on common mental disorders than experiencing an armed robbery. Population attributable fractions with regard to robbery were 9% for common mental disorders, 13% for depression, and 8% for anxiety. CONCLUSIONS: Robberies are associated with common mental disorders in late adolescence, independently of violence between family members. Reducing urban violence could significantly help in preventing common mental illnesses.

Original publication




Journal article


Soc Psychiatry Psychiatr Epidemiol

Publication Date





487 - 496


Adolescence, Crime victims, Mental health, Middle-income country, Violence, Adolescent, Anxiety Disorders, Brazil, Cohort Studies, Crime Victims, Cross-Sectional Studies, Depressive Disorder, Major, Female, Humans, Male, Mental Disorders, Poisson Distribution, Prevalence, Psychiatric Status Rating Scales, Regression Analysis, Self Report, Violence