Introduction: The Romani population are Europe’s largest ethnic minority and also one with the worst health. Discrimination and social exclusion of this group dates back to world war two and has recently been brought to light again in the media. The literature base on the physical and mental health on Gypsies is scarce, especially in the UK where Gypsies have been described as a “hard to reach” group.
Method: A thorough online literature search was carried out using databases including AMED, BNI, CINAHL, EMBASE, Health Business Elite, HMIC, Medline and PsycINFO. Abstracts were read for the relevant papers and if papers fitted the inclusion criteria they were chosen for review.
Results: Gypsies and Travellers scored significantly poorer than their age and sex matched comparators in terms of self-rated mobility, self-care, usual activity, pain or discomfort, anxiety or depression. Cardiac, respiratory and mental health problems were found to be significantly more prevalent amongst Gypsies and Travellers. Factors reported that contributed towards low mood were: financial, physical environment, grief, family and community support. Improving knowledge of service providers about Gypsy and Traveller culture and needs and the joint working of providers are recommended.
Discussion: The physical and mental health of Gypsies and Travellers in the UK is markedly worse than other deprived communities. These health inequalities are not acceptable and health care providers as well as other services must act together and follow their duties to reduce the discrimination and close the gaps in equality. Education, communication and further research are key to understanding and meeting the needs of Gypsies and Travellers.