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Arch Hellen Med, 37(2), March-April 2019, 202-211


Attitudes of public hospital staff towards Roma people in Attica, Greece: A comparative study

C. Asimopoulos,1 S. Martinaki,1,2 H. Kontogianni,1 D. Kompoti,1 K. Pachi,1,3 P. Tzaneti3
1Department of Social Work, Technological Educational Institute of Athens, Athens,
2First Psychiatric Clinic, "Eginitio" Hospital, National and Kapodistrian University of Athens, Athens,
3"Thriasio" General Hospital, Elefsina, Attica, Greece

OBJECTIVE Investigation of the attitudes of the staff of a general hospital and a university hospital towards Roma people, according to their professional status and their socio-demographic characteristics.

METHOD Two questionnaires were completed by the participants: A socio-demographic questionnaire, consisting of 10 questions, and a questionnaire on prejudice towards the Roma people, based on the "Prejudice Toward Immigrants Questionnaire", consisting of 43 statements covering attitudes, symbolic fears, inter-group anxiety and negative stereotypes. A total of 289 health professionals and administrative staff of two hospitals in Attica participated in the study, 217 of whom worked in a general hospital and 72 in a university hospital.

RESULTS The average scores of the participants were high: Attitudes 5.49 (standard deviation [SD]=1.85), for symbolic fears 7.13 (SD=1.70), inter-group anxiety 6.28 (SD=2.11), and negative stereotypes 6.73 (SD=1.81). The general hospital staff members recorded significantly higher scores on the scales of attitudes, symbolic fears, inter-group anxiety and stereotypes than the university hospital staff. Participants who lived in the Western Attica region, where the Roma have a greater presence in the local population compared with other Attica regions, scored significantly higher on the scales of symbolic fears, inter-group anxiety and negative stereotypes. Married people reported significantly higher inter-group anxiety, but as the level of education increased, the level of inter-group anxiety lowered.

CONCLUSIONS This study showed that a high percentage of the staff, both health professionals and administrative employees, in the public hospitals in Attica, despite their codes of professional ethics, maintain preconceptions and stereotypes about the Roma. These attitudes can be expected to have a negative impact on the ways they deal with the Roma people who are trying to access the health services necessary to them. These results demonstrate the need for developing appropriate interventions designed to reduce the perceived threat and change the negative attitudes of the health care professionals towards Roma people. Such interventions should be based on a multicultural approach, promoting health service policies that imply acceptance of diversity and equal opportunities of access, and which reduce the sense of threat from "outsiders", felt at present by the hospital staff.

Key words: Attitudes, Greece, Health professionals, Prejudice, Roma.

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