Introduction Irish Travellers are a nomadic minority group in Ireland with a strong cultural identity, who experience profound socioeconomic and health inequalities. The All Ireland Traveller Health Study is a multi-study project, one component of which is a birth cohort follow-up study. The aim of this study is to describe the methodology and findings to date.
Methodology This is a 3-year longitudinal linkage cohort study of all Irish Traveller mothers who gave birth on island of Ireland between 14 October 2008 and 13 October 2009 followed up for 1 year thereafter to assess infant mortality and health outcomes. Public Health Nurses and Traveller community health workers in Traveller Health Projects facilitated cohort ascertainment. Participating mothers carried a Parent-Held Child Record and consented to linkage to perinatal data in maternity hospitals. Infant Traveller deaths were also searched for in the General Register Office.
Results Of 987 Traveller births identified, 506 consented (51.2%) to participation. We retrieved 491 linkage records (97%) from the 25 maternity hospitals and 348 (68.8%) of the Parent-Held Child Record in 37 districts. 35% of participants in the cohort still travel with 19.7% lost from follow-up as a result of nomadic practice. Preliminary follow-up data suggest infant mortality was higher in the refusal group and predominantly from congenital conditions in the perinatal period.
Conclusion The recruitment strategy was culturally appropriate and, despite challenges to engagement, longitudinal follow-up to date has been largely successful. The experience is relevant to other indigenous minority healthcare initiatives worldwide.
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