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Perspectives on alcohol use in a Traveller community: an exploratory case study

Rachel Hurcombe (Research Analyst, General Medical Council, London, UK)
Mariana Bayley (Research Fellow at the Drug and Alcohol Research Centre, Middlesex University, London, UK)
Anthony Thickett (Research Fellow at the Drug and Alcohol Research Centre, Middlesex University, London, UK)
Betsy Thom (Professor of Health Policy at the Drug and Alcohol Research Centre, Middlesex University, London, UK)

Ethnicity and Inequalities in Health and Social Care

ISSN: 1757-0980

Article publication date: 21 September 2012

214

Abstract

Purpose

Travellers are consistently found to have poorer health outcomes and health status than other minority ethnic groups. Very few studies have examined alcohol use among Travellers, but some indicate that their drinking patterns are changing. This study aims to explore alcohol use, health needs and health service access within an Irish Traveller population in England with a view to identifying themes for further study.

Design/methodology/approach

A qualitative exploratory pilot study was carried out using an oral life history approach. Ten individuals were interviewed along with two professionals working closely with the Traveller group.

Findings

While improvements in general health and access to healthcare were widely reported, many Travellers were concerned about the effects of leaving behind their nomadic lifestyle to living more “settled” lives. This change was felt to bring young male Travellers, in particular, into contact with the risky drinking behaviours of non‐Travellers and away from the monitoring and informal controls traditionally accompanying their former nomadic lifestyle.

Research limitations/implications

These findings may not generalise to other Traveller groups; they draw on a small sample of Travellers living in “settled” accommodation. The sample was limited to discussions with older Travellers and further research is needed among younger generations to explore how health related behaviours and alcohol use may be changing.

Originality/value

This study highlights potential pathways for young male Travellers to become “youth at risk” importantly through involvement in alcohol and drug use. It should be of value to health policy makers and health/support workers in contact with Traveller communities.

Keywords

Citation

Hurcombe, R., Bayley, M., Thickett, A. and Thom, B. (2012), "Perspectives on alcohol use in a Traveller community: an exploratory case study", Ethnicity and Inequalities in Health and Social Care, Vol. 5 No. 3, pp. 89-97. https://doi.org/10.1108/17570981211319384

Publisher

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Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2012, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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