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'You likes your way, we got our own way': Gypsy and Travellers' views on infant feeding and health professional support

Condon, L. & Salmon, D. (2015). 'You likes your way, we got our own way': Gypsy and Travellers' views on infant feeding and health professional support. Health Expectations, 18(5), pp. 784-795. doi: 10.1111/hex.12214


Background: Gypsies and Travellers are known to have poor health status and access to health services, even in comparison to other ethnic minority groups. People from this stigmatised ethnic group are rarely consulted about their health needs or health service provision. Optimal infant feeding in the first year of life has the potential to improve life long health.

Objective: The aim of this study is to explore mothers and grandmothers' views on feeding in the first year of life, including the support provided by health professionals.

Methods: Semi-structured interviews were conducted with a purposively selected sample of 22 mothers and grandmothers of English Gypsy, Irish Traveller and Romanian Roma ethnicity between November 2011 and February 2012 in a city in South-West England. Results Few women perceived themselves as requiring help from health professionals in infant feeding, as acceptable and accessible support was available from within their own communities. Roma mothers described a tradition of breastfeeding and appropriately timed weaning, while English Gypsies and Irish Travellers customarily practised less healthy infant feeding. When mothers requested support, health service provision was often found inadequate.

Conclusion: Exploring the views of Gypsies and Travellers is important to gain insight into the provision of health services for this marginalised ethnic group. This study has implications for policy and the practice of health professionals, in indicating the customary feeding behaviours of some Gypsy and Travellers, and highlighting areas meriting culturally sensitive health promotion.

Publication Type: Article
Publisher Keywords: ethnicity, Gypsies, Travellers, health professional support, health promotion, infant feeding, provision of health service
Subjects: R Medicine
R Medicine > RA Public aspects of medicine
Departments: School of Health & Psychological Sciences
SWORD Depositor:
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