Objectives: To conduct a systematic review of the epidemiological and health service utilization literature related to the Roma population between 2003 and 2012.
Methods: Systematic review of empirical research related to Roma health and health care utilization published between 2003 and 2012 identified through electronic databases (PsycInfo, Medline, Google Scholar). Methodological rigor was evaluated using a six-point set of design criteria.
Results: We found evidence for lower self-reported health and significantly higher mortality risk for Roma compared to non-Roma, and greater prevalence of health risk factors for Roma children, including environmental risks, low birth weight, and lower vaccination coverage. Studies of non-communicable and infectious disease remain insufficient to make firm conclusions on disparities. Barriers to care include lack of documentation and affordability of care, though more studies on health care utilization are needed.
Conclusions: Roma youth and adults are in need of programs that reduce health disparities and their increased mortality risk. Reducing exposure to risk factors such as smoking, obesity, and poor living conditions may be a target for interventions. More intervention studies and rigorous evaluations are needed.