Self-esteem instability and its implications for HIV prevention among gay men

James I. Martin, Jo Knox

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This study, using a modified State Self-Esteem Scale (SSES), examined self-esteem instability and its association with risky sexual behavior among 455 gay and bisexual men. A self-administered questionnaire included the SSES and measures of intimacy, loneliness, social support, and ways of coping. Analysis of variance showed that the self-esteem of participants who recently engaged in unprotected anal intercourse with nonprimary partners was more unstable than the self-esteem of participants who did not engage in unprotected anal intercourse. Self-esteem instability was associated with higher avoidance coping, higher loneliness, and lower social support. Episodes of self-esteem injury might motivate some gay men to engage in risky sex. HIV prevention strategies with gay men should target the quality of their interpersonal relationships and community supports.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)264-273
Number of pages10
JournalHealth and Social Work
Issue number4
StatePublished - Nov 1997


  • Gay men
  • HIV/AIDS prevention
  • Self-esteem
  • Sexual practices
  • State Self-Esteem Scale

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)


Dive into the research topics of 'Self-esteem instability and its implications for HIV prevention among gay men'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this