Barriers in accessing health services and health status in Roma and non-Roma in Slovakia

The health of people of Roma ethnicity, has been shown to be poorer compared to people of non-Roma ethnicity in various studies. Health inequalities are bigger in Central and Eastern Europe and they might be mediated by worse access to health care.

In a newly published study in International Journal of Public Health, Slovakian researchers Pavol Jarcuska , Daniela Bobakova , Jan Uhrin, Ladislav Bobak, Ingrid Babinska, Peter Kolarcik, Zuzana Veselska and Andrea Madarasova Geckova aimed to explore the differences between Roma and non-Roma regarding perceived barriers in accessing health services. Furthermore, they assessed the association between self-rated health status and Roma ethnicity.

The authors used data from 452 Roma and 403 non-Roma taken from the HepaMeta study which was conducted in 2011 in Slovakia. The most important findings are summarized below:

– Roma ethnicity was significantly associated with poor self-rated health status; namely, Roma had three times higher chance to report worse health status.

– Considerable part of the association between Roma ethnicity and worse health status can be explained by perceived barriers in accessing health services.

The authors conclude that interventions should focus not only in increasing health literacy in Roma but also in increasing “Roma literacy” for health care professionals and policy makers.



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