Could an Innovative Training Program Including Contact Sports and Counseling Help Young People With Traits of Psychopathy and A History of School Dropout?

Federica Sancassiani1, *, Maria Efisia Lecca1, Elisa Pintus1, Maria Francesca Moro2, Roberto Caria1, Luigi Minerba1, Quirico Mela1, Antonio Egidio Nardi3, Sergio Machado3, 4, Ernesto d’Aloja1, Antonio Preti1, Mauro Giovanni Carta1
1 Department of Public Health and Clinical and Molecular Medicine, University of Cagliari, Cagliari, Italy
2 Mailman School of Public Health Columbia University, NY, US
3 Laboratory of Panic and Respiration, Institute of Psychiatry of Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, Rio de Janeiro-RJ, Brazil
4 Laboratory of Physical Activity Neuroscience, Physical Activity Sciences Postgraduate Program, Salgado de Oliveira University, Niterói-RJ, Brazil

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© 2019 Sancassiani et al.

open-access license: This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International Public License (CC-BY 4.0), a copy of which is available at: This license permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

* Address correspondence to this author at the Department of Public Health and Clinical and Molecular Medicine, University of Cagliari, SS554, 09042 Monserrato, Cagliari, Italy; E-mail:



The aim was to assess the effects of a training program inclusive of contact sports and counseling on school dropout, quality of life (QoL) and psychopathologic symptoms in the youth with a history of school dropout and psychopathic personality traits.


The Experimental Group (EG) consisted of 32 subjects (male 90.6%; age 19.6±4.3 years); the Control Group (CG) consisted of an equal number matched for gender and age with the same psychological features. At the beginning of the experimental Training Program (T0), both cohorts were assessed by a diagnostic psychiatric interview (SCID ANTAS), the Short Form Health Survey (SF-12) to evaluate QoL, the Psychopathy Checklist - Revised (PCL-R) for the assessment of psychopathic traits, the Self Reporting Questionnaire (SRQ) to measure general psychopathology. At the end of the program (T1), the coorths were evaluated by SF-12 and SRQ.


Twenty-seven subjects in the EG (84.4%) completed the course and underwent the evaluation at T1. The SF-12 score significantly increased from T0 to T1 in both groups, albeit this was more evident in the EG than in the CG, owing to an interaction between time and group. SRQ score significantly decreased in the EG from T0 to T1, while in the CG it did not, although the interaction between time and group was not significant.


The experimental training program was effective in improving QoL and countering school dropout in young citizens with psychopathic traits. Further studies are needed to clarify if such results are due to a relationship between the practical tasks approach including contact sports and an improvement in mentalization processes.

Keywords: School dropout, Psychopathic traits, Contact sports, Psychological counseling, Quality of life, (PCL-R).