Aim: To assess the key characteristics related to living conditions and health in the Bayash Roma population in Baranja and Medimurje regions of Croatia and identify possible demographic and socio-economic sources of variance in self-reported health and reproductive profile.
Methods: The study comprised a total of 266 adult Bayash individuals from Baranja and 164 from Medimurje (aged 41.3+/-15.1 years). Data on ethno-historical and demographic background, self-identity, life and hygiene conditions, education, employment, health insurance, and health (dietary and smoking habits, reproductive characteristics, diagnosed and undiagnosed health problems, use of medications). were obtained through interviews. Bivariate and multivariate methods were used in statistical analyses.
Results: The reported migratory pattern demonstrated that 88.8% of the examinees were born in the region of residence, which showed that the Bayash population was autochthonous and sedentary one. Financially, the Bayash primarily relayed on social welfare support allowance (84%) and child allowance (47%), while merely 2% were permanently and 23% occasionally employed. The proportion of the Bayash who had never attended school amounted to 33.3% (19.3% men and 40.6% women). The access to public water supply system was available to 52.5% of examinees, whereas only 1.7% had public sewage system, and 23.4% had private septic tanks. The most commonly reported health burden were frequent headaches (20.3%), stomach pain (16.3%), anxiety or insomnia (13.1%), hypertension (9.3%), and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) (8.6%). The logistic regression identified level of education (odds ratio [OR], 0.77; 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.63-0.94) and access to health insurance (OR, 4.32; 95% CI, 1.46-12.77) as socio-economic/life-style factors playing a significant role in the occurrence of COPD.
Conclusion: Our results indicate poor inclusion of the Bayash in the essential social service sectors such as health care, education, and employment, as well as substandard living conditions and unfavorable health-related behavior. Since education and health insurance were found to have significant effects on the observed reproductive status and self-reported health, they should be targeted in planning public health actions for socially marginalized and economically deprived groups.