Roma (Gipsy) ethnic minority is commonly a disadvantageous social group in many countries. In the presented study, health behavior, mental and physical health status, and preventive health service use of young Roma women were compared to non-Roma young women. The data is based on a national representative survey conducted in 1998, consisting of a sample of 1599 young Hungarian women, between the ages of 18-24 years, who have completed their studies. Of the whole sample 4.3% of young women identified themselves as belonging to the Roma ethnic group. Roma young women are undereducated, only 14.7% had a high school diploma and a high proportion are unemployed or on maternity leave. Only 20.6% were employed. Health complaints did not differ significantly between Roma and non-Roma sample, fatigue, headache, and frequent colds were the most common. A significant difference was observed between Roma women and non-Roma women with respect to their attendance of preventive health services, the occurence of depressive symptoms, and health damaging behavior. Of the Roma women 22.2% reported mild, 14.8% moderate, and 9.3% severe depressive symptomatology. 45.5% of the Roma female sample smoked compared to 34% of non-Roma women. Preventive services were underutilized by Roma young women, 20.5% never attended pulmonary screening, 39% have not been to gynecological screening, 33.9% have never had their blood pressure measured, and 40.7% have never been to a dental check-up. The results of this study underline the importance of interventions designed specifically for the Roma young female population in order to prevent the deterioration of health and the early onset of chronic diseases.
Keywords: ethnicity, young women, screening, health risk behavior, depressive symptoms, socio-economic