ISSN : 2146-3123
E-ISSN : 2146-3131

Health and Roma People in Turkey
Perihan Elif Ekmekçi 1
1TOBB University of Economics and Technology School of Medicine, Ankara, Turkey
DOI : 10.5152/balkanmedj.2016.151385



Background: The research and published literatüre on Roma health in Turkey is much more limited than in other European countries. Among these, there are hardly any published literature focusing on the health status, health indicators and health behaviors.

Aims: The aim of this research is to describe the perceptions of health-related concepts and access and the use of health services and social determinants of the health of Roma people in Turkey.

Study Design: Descriptive qualitative survey.

Methods: The participants were chosen by random sampling. The semi-structured interview topic guide was developed from sources such as advice from the Romani community leaders, published evidence and personal experience from previous work with Roma communities. Non-directive open ended questions allowed the exploration of their health status, how they conceptualize health and disease, their level of awareness on the impact of social determinants of health, on their health status and the access and use of health services. The data analysis was based on grounded theory. Analysis proceeded in four steps: 1. Reading and examining the transcripts separately using open coding, 2. Extracting the key words and codes from the transcripts and sorting them into categories, 3. Rereading the transcripts by using selective coding, and 4. Examining the categories derived from the open coding systematically and determining the concepts summarizing the material.

Results: The survey results are compatible with the existing literature on Roma health and reveal that 1) there is a tight link between the lack of social determinants of health and the poor health status of Roma people 2) socioeconomic factors and cultural norms of the ethnic minority are suspicious factors 3) comparative and systematic research is needed to illuminate the actual health gaps and causal factors for them.

Conclusion: The research proves that the need for comparative and systematic research in Turkey to determine the actual health status of Roma people and develop policies to combat the health disparities is profound.

Keywords : Roma people, health, ethnicity, public health, social determinants of health, qualitative methods