My role


Gypsy travellers research begins

Gypsy Traveller Men have finally been included in a health status study.

Gypsy Travellers, a recognised ethnic minority, with their traditional nomadic culture and understandable mistrust of the settled population, are one of society's most socially excluded groups. Despite a few small-scale studies suggesting high levels of illness and premature death, no attempt has previously been made in England to measure health status using validated measures. These studies focus mostly on mother's and children's health with virtually no mention of men's health.

Professor Glenys Parry, at the University of Sheffield, is leading a national study, funded by the Department of Health, to research the health of adult Gypsy Travellers — male and female.

A pilot study was first carried out in 1999. 87 Gypsy Travellers matched for age and sex with indigenous working class residents in a socially deprived area of Sheffield completed a short validated, health related quality of life questionnaire (EQ 5-D) with some additional demographic questions. Although it was more difficult to recruit Traveller men to the study than it was to recruit women, 32 men were recruited out of the total 87 (36.8%)

Results showed statistically and clinically significant differences between Gypsy Travellers and their non-Gypsy Traveller comparators in some aspects of health status and significant associations with smoking and with frequency of travelling. (Van Cleemput P, Parry G. Health Status of Gypsy Travellers; Journal of Public health Medicine 2001; 23:(2) 129-134) Gypsy Traveller men rated their perception of health considerably higher than the women, despite very similar scores on actual self reported health measures. Any similar findings in the national study will be explored.

In addition to health inequalities, there are good reasons to believe that Gypsy Travellers have unequal access to health services.

The study, measuring the health status of Gypsy Traveller populations in the UK using validated and standardised measures, commenced in January 2002. Each Traveller is matched with someone of the same age and sex in a settled population group to make fair comparisons. The study will also make comparisons with national data. A further aspect of the study will be the exploration of inequalities in health service access by means of a qualitative study of health beliefs, attitudes to and use of local health services.

Gypsy Travellers have been fully involved in the study from the beginning. The secretary of the Gypsy Council, as well as four Gypsy Travellers (male and female), including me are on the research study advisory group

Results of this study will be available at the end of 2003. A separate study of the mental health needs of Gypsy Travellers in Sheffield has also been carried out.

by Richard O'Neill, a trustee of the Men's Health Forum, director of Men's Health Week and a member of the advisory group for the project

For further information

contact Patrice Van Cleemput

Page created on March 11th, 2003

Page updated on December 1st, 2009