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BMC Psychiatry

, 14:297

Child, adolescent and developmental psychiatry


BackgroundThe Roma population, one of the largest minority groups in Europe, experience discrimination and stigma associated with marginalized social position. Few studies have examined mental illnesses in the Roma, and none have examined the Roma children. The present study estimates mental health and behavioral disorders among Roma children in comparison to non-Roma children in educational institutions.

MethodsData were drawn from the School Children Mental Health Study in Europe SCHME study in Romania Roma children identified by parent report, N = 70; non-Roma, N = 925 and Bulgaria Roma children identified by exclusively-Roma schools, N = 65; non-Roma, N = 1312. The Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire was given to the parents and teachers to measure child mental health; children reported on their mental health through the Dominique Interactive. Control covariates included child sex and age, and parental characteristics when parent reports were available.

ResultsBased on the child’s own report, Roma children had a higher odds of any internalizing disorder OR = 2.99, 95% C.I. 2.07–4.30, phobias OR = 4.84, 95% C.I. 3.19–7.35, separation anxiety disorder OR = 2.54, 95% C.I. 1.72–3.76, generalized anxiety disorder OR = 2.95, 95% C.I. 1.75–4.96, and major depressive disorder OR = 3.86, 95% C.I. 2.31–6.37. Further Roma children had a higher odds of any externalizing disorder OR = 2.84, 95% C.I. 1.78–4.54, oppositional defiant disorder OR = 3.35, 95% C.I. 1.93–5.82, ADHD OR = 2.37, 95% C.I. 1.26–4.46, and conduct disorder OR = 3.63, 95% C.I. 2.04–6.46. Based on the report of teachers, Roma children had higher odds of emotional problems OR = 2.03, 95% C.I. 1.20-3.44, peer-relational problems OR = 2.76, 95% C.I. 1.73-4.41 and prosocial behavior OR = 2.75, 95% C.I. 1.75-4.33.

ConclusionRoma children experience a higher burden of mental health problems compared with their non-Roma counterparts. Attention to child health and mental health among the Roma is urgently needed, as these children experience a constellation of health problems associated with poverty as well as experiences of stigma and discrimination.

KeywordsRoma Mental Health Romania Bulgaria Europe Electronic supplementary materialThe online version of this article doi:10.1186-s12888-014-0297-5 contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.

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Autor: Eric J Lee - Katherine Keyes - Adina Bitfoi - Zlatka Mihova - Ondine Pez - Elisha Yoon - Viviane Kovess Masfety


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