Objectives: Roma health issues are under-studied from a comprehensive, epidemiological perspective. The Roma peoples (including 'Travellers') have been living in and around Central and Eastern Europe for centuries, and may be one of the oldest systematically oppressed minority groups in Europe. This review examines the research literature in regard to the health and epidemiology of this group with the aim of examining the breadth and depth of the literature and reflecting on the primary and applied research needed to address the health needs of Roma groups.
Design: Internet, database and ancestral searches were conducted via such electronic databases as Medline and PubMed. Ancestral searches involved consulting previous literature reviews in select topical areas and obtaining all appropriate, primary literature. The time parameters of the search began with the year 1990 to current but was later expanded to 1985-2003 in order to capture slightly older published work.
Results: This paper describes what is known concerning Roma health via a review of the published studies, with special emphasis on population health and epidemiological studies. One hundred and twenty-nine articles are reviewed and discussed. The majority of research (50%) examines the genetic characteristics of this group.
Conclusions: Surveillance and population health indices for this international minority population is scarce to lacking in the published literature. Concluding comments focus on the unique character of the study population and the need for scientific studies of Roma health issues and the cultural concerns which might affect them.