To what extent does socioeconomic status explain differences in health between Roma and non-Roma adolescents in Slovakia?

Soc Sci Med. 2009 Apr;68(7):1279-84. doi: 10.1016/j.socscimed.2008.12.044. Epub 2009 Feb 11.


The Roma make up one of the largest ethnic groups in Europe. The few studies that are available report health among the Roma as considerably worse than that of the majority population, and virtually nothing is known about the health status of Roma adolescents. The purpose of this study was to compare the self-reported health outcomes of Roma adolescents living in Roma settlements with adolescents from the majority population and to assess the impact of socioeconomic status on the results obtained. We conducted a survey among Roma adolescents (N=330, mean age=14.5) and non-Roma adolescents (N=722, mean age=14.9) living in eastern Slovakia. We gathered data on sociodemographic position, self-rated health (using the SF-36), the occurrence of accidents and injuries during the past year, healthcare utilization during the past year, health complaints, mental health and social desirability. Roma adolescents reported poorer self-rated health, more accidents and injuries during the past year and more frequent use of healthcare during the past year, though fewer health complaints. Furthermore, they reported more prosocial behaviour than non-Roma. No differences appeared in total difficulties. Socioeconomic status decreased the association of ethnicity with health outcomes. Adjustment for social desirability had a significant effect on the differences for all outcomes, except for accidents and injuries during the past year.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Female
  • Health Status*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Roma / statistics & numerical data*
  • Slovakia
  • Social Class*
  • Social Desirability