AIDS and Behavior

, Volume 12, Issue 2, pp 305–320 | Cite as

The Cognitive Escape Scale: Measuring HIV-related Thought Avoidance

  • Carol J. NemeroffEmail author
  • Michael A. Hoyt
  • David M. Huebner
  • Rae Jean Proescholdbell
Original Paper


Cognitive escape provides a model for examining the cognitive processes involved in escaping from thoughts of HIV/AIDS in a population of men who have sex with men (MSM). This investigation presents psychometric information and validation data on the Cognitive Escape Scale (CES), a measure of HIV-related cognitive avoidance. This study also examined the associations between the CES and self-report measures of theoretically related constructs, including HIV-related worry, sensation-seeking, depressive symptoms, perceived stress, and risky sexual behaviors. Participants were 709 MSM (71% White, 13% Latino, 8% African-American, 6% Native American; M age = 35). The CES measured HIV-related thought avoidance. Exploratory and confirmatory factor analyses supported a 3-factor structure to the CES, suggesting three strategies of cognitive escape: fatalism/short-term thinking, thought suppression/distraction, and alcohol/drug use. These factors are differentially related to several variables of interest including risky sexual behaviors. Although the CES is designed for use with both HIV negative and positive men, correlates differed between groups.


Cognitive escape HIV AIDS Thought suppression Fatalism 



This research was supported in part by a grant from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to the Arizona Department of Health Services through cooperative agreement #99004. The authors would like to thank Leona Aiken, Brendt Parrish, and Roger Millsap for their important contributions, and the anonymous reviewers for their insightful and constructive comments. We also thank the many AIDS service organizations and participants of the Heads Up Study for their time, effort, and dedication.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • Carol J. Nemeroff
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • Michael A. Hoyt
    • 1
    • 3
  • David M. Huebner
    • 1
    • 4
  • Rae Jean Proescholdbell
    • 1
    • 5
  1. 1.Arizona State UniversityTempeUSA
  2. 2.Social and Behavioral Sciences ProgramLewiston-Auburn College of the University of Southern MainePortlandUSA
  3. 3.Department of PsychologyUniversity of California, Los AngelesLos AngelesUSA
  4. 4.Department of PsychologyUniversity of MarylandBaltimoreUSA
  5. 5.Center for Health PolicyDuke UniversityDurhamUSA

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