A mixed methods study on challenges for Roma women and access to health in Greece
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Midwifery Department, University of West Attica, Athens, Greece
University of Exeter Medical School, Exeter, United Kingdom
Publication date: 2023-10-24
Corresponding author
Eleni Asimaki   

Midwifery Department, University of West Attica, Athens, Greece
Eur J Midwifery 2023;7(Supplement 1):A50
Literature suggests that Greek Roma population in general suffer from greater exposure to determinants of ill health, follow less healthy lifestyles and have poorer access to and lower uptake of primary care and preventive health services. Sexual and reproductive issues are very common among Roma women, including early pregnancies, sterilisation and it has been reported that they are mostly visit maternity and gynaecological health services for emergencies.Τhe emphasis of this project was put on Roma women’s empowerment and the promotion of sexual and reproductive health for them and their families. Mixed methodology was used, combining quantitative and qualitative research, in order to examine the access to healthcare services by Roma women in Greece and the challenges that Roma women and professionals face. For the quantitative research two questionnaires were created (one for healthcare professionals and one for other professionals that serve Roma people within their practice). Qualitative data were collected through two semi-structured interviews and two focus groups. The thematic analysis that followed led to six themes: 1) official registration issues and healthcare services, 2) stereotypes among health/social care professionals and Roma women, 3) culture as a determining factor in communication between health/social care professionals and Roma people, 4) contraception and family planning, 5) obstetric and gynaecological monitoring and breastfeeding, 6) woman’s role and Roma women’s empowerment. The results of the quantitative and qualitative research were contradictory in some areas. For example, discrimination and negative attitude towards Roma were reported at the interviews, while the questionnaires showed that most of the participants were willing to offer their services without stereotypes. Moreover, the qualitative research revealed that the lack of trust between Roma and professionals is reciprocal. Several recommendations by the participants were noted for the improvement of the access of Roma women to health, including systemic changes, provision of information, training, ensuring liaison between different services and the use of Roma mediators. In conclusion, there seems to be a gap between Roma and health/social care services. This gap is reinforced by factors, such as health illiteracy, stereotypes, and cultural differences. This gap, although apparently deep, could be bridged through various interventions that can support both sides to overcome the difficulties they face. In this direction, improving the capacity of professionals and services to work effectively with and be accessible to Roma is necessary, but it is also important to focus on training Roma women on how to empower other women to improve their general and sexual and reproductive health.
The authors have no conflicts of interest to disclose.
The project “REACH: Roma Women’s Empowerment and Fight against discrimination in Access to Health” is funded by the European Union’s Rights, Equality and Citizenship Programme (2014-2020).
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