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Ideas and Opinions |

Gypsies and American Medical Care

JAMES D. THOMAS, M.D.
[+] Article and Author Information

▸Requests for reprints should be addressed to James D. Thomas, M.D.; Cardiology Unit, Medical Center Hospital of Vermont; Burlington, VT 05401.


Boston, Massachusetts


© 1985 American College of PhysiciansAmerican College of Physicians


Ann Intern Med. 1985;102(6):842-845. doi:10.7326/0003-4819-102-6-842
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Gypsies are a cohesive cultural group who may have difficult relations with the American medical community. There are several hundred thousand Gypsies in this country; they maintain a private society with an internal moral code and legal system. There is a strong cultural basis for obesity, tobacco use, fatty diet, and inbreeding among Gypsies. These traits predispose them to hypertension, diabetes, hyperlipidemia, and occlusive vascular disease. When ill they present a striking dichotomy of primitive fears of disease process with surprising sophistication for medical terms and the workings of the hospital hierarchy. Specific recommendations are made for more effective and compassionate relations with Gypsy patients.

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