Aims: Changes in emotions associated with mountain treks have rarely been reported. This study examined emotional state changes in sixth-grade elementary school students before and after a 3-day high-altitude mountain trek from the trailhead (2140 m) to Xue Mountain (3886 m) in Taiwan. Methods: In June 2011, 201 students participated in the trek. The round-trip distance was 21.8 km. The age, gender, blood group, and family configuration of the participants were documented before the trek. A 36-item short-form survey instrument, including the Mood and Anxiety Symptom Questionnaire and the Positive and Negative Affect Scale for Children, was used to evaluate the participants' emotional states (happiness, anticipation, sadness, and anger). The participants answered the questionnaires 1 month before and 1 week after the trek. A Likert scale was used to evaluate individual items (range 1-4; from strongly disagree to strongly agree). We calculated scores for each index before and after the trek. The incidence and presentation of acute mountain sickness (AMS) among the participants was also studied and published previously. Results: In total, 187 (112 boys and 75 girls) participants (mean age 11.9 ± 0.4 years) completed the trek and the survey. The sadness and anger scores (negative emotions) were significantly lower after than before the trek (39.5 vs. 36.6; p < 0.01). The happiness and anticipation scores (positive emotions) before and after the trek did not differ significantly (49.9 vs. 48.9; p = 0.11). No participant used AMS prophylaxis, while 78 participants met the AMS criteria. Negative emotions decreased more in those with AMS than without AMS (-4.6 vs. -1.8; p = 0.04), and the use of medications or acetazolamide did not alter the emotions. Conclusions: A 3-day high-altitude mountain trek can reduce children's negative emotions. Negative emotions decreased more in those with AMS, whereas medications or acetazolamide did not alter their emotions.
ASJC Scopus subject areas