Objective To assess and estimate the personality changes that occurred before and after the 2009 earthquake in L'Aquila and to model the ways that the earthquake affected adolescents according to gender and sport practice. The consequences of earthquakes on psychological health are long lasting for portions of the population, depending on age, gender, social conditions and individual experiences. Sports activities are considered a factor with which to test the overall earthquake impact on individual and social psychological changes in adolescents.
Design Before and after design.
Setting Population-based study conducted in L'Aquila, Italy, before and after the 2009 earthquake.
Participants Before the earthquake, a random sample of 179 adolescent subjects who either practised or did not practise sports (71 vs 108, respectively). After the earthquake, of the original 179 subjects, 149 were assessed a second time.
Primary outcome measure Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory—Adolescents (MMPI-A) questionnaire scores, in a supervised environment.
Results An unbalanced split plot design, at a 0.05 significance level, was carried out using a linear mixed model with quake, sex and sports practice as predictive factors. Although the overall scores indicated no deviant behaviours in the adolescents tested, changes were detected in many individual content scale scores, including depression (A-dep score mean ± SEM: before quake =47.54±0.73; after quake =52.67±0.86) and social discomfort (A-sod score mean ± SEM: before quake =49.91±0.65; after quake =51.72±0.81). The MMPI-A profiles show different impacts of the earthquake on adolescents according to gender and sport practice.
Conclusions The differences detected in MMPI-A scores raise issues about social policies required to address the psychological changes in adolescents. The current study supports the idea that sport should be considered part of a coping strategy to assist adolescents in dealing with the psychological effects of the earthquakes on their personalities.
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To cite: Valenti M, Vinciguerra MG, Masedu F, et al. A before and after study on personality assessment in adolescents exposed to the 2009 earthquake in L'Aquila, Italy: influence of sports practice. BMJ Open 2012;2:e000824. doi:10.1136/bmjopen-2012-000824
Contributors MV was the principal investigator, conceived and designed the study protocol and provided the final interpretation of data. MGV participated in designing the study, questionnaire administration and interpretation of data. FM performed the statistical data analysis. ST contributed to the study design and interpretation of results. VS participated in designing the study protocol and interpretation of data. All authors gave substantial contribution to manuscript writing and editing.
Funding This research received no specific grant from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.
Competing interests None.
Ethics approval Ethical approval was provided by the Institutional Review Board, Department of Mental Health, Health Agency of L'Aquila, Italy.
Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.
Data sharing statement No additional unpublished data from the study are available.
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