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How can I ensure that I am not biased towards gypsy travellers?

  • Comments (12)
  • Article: Francis G (2011) Attitudes towards Gypsy Travellers. Nursing Times; 107: 39, early online publication.
  • Author: Gill Francis is health inclusion worker for Travellers and Gypsies at Homerton University Hosptial, NHS Foundation Trust, London.

This article tells you about:

  • This ethnic group
  • Health problems of Gypsy Travellers
  • Negative attitudes and bias towards this group
  • How you can overcome negative attitude and bias 

You would be likely to reference this article if you were researching:

  • Ethnic minority groups
  • Prejudice
  • Stereotyping

In what situations will this article be useful to me?

  • It will help you to explore your own perceptions of this group
  • It will help you to offer health care without bias

Questions for your mentor/tutor

  • How can I ensure that I am not biased towards this group?
  • What should I do if I notice prejudice from other health professionals?

Student Nursing Times Decoder

  • Minority ethnic group: a group that has different national or cultural traditions from the majority of the population
  • Gypsy travellers: Romany Gypsies and Irish Travellers are legally recognised as ethnic groups.   In terms of health and education, they are one of the most deprived groups in the Britain.
  • Racial discrimination: this is when an individual or a group is treated less favourably on racial grounds than others in similar circumstances.


  • Comments (12)

Readers' comments (12)

  • You know I really despise this type of article and paradigm within Nursing where there often seems to be the assumption that we will be biased and discriminatory unless we reflect and change our behaviour!

    I am a PROFESSIONAL! And I act as such!

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  • Anonymous

    what on earth is the article all about and what type of people is intended for? Why does it have a place in a professional nursing journal.

    very well said Mike, I agree with you 100%!!!!!!!
    NT please take note for future articles of this nature you intend to publish and aim at healthcare PROFESSIONALS!

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  • nadine woogara


    Thanks for your comments, this article is for student nurses looking to perfect their practice, learn, research and add to their knowledge.

    We'd like to hear back from students about whether they find this useful.


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  • Adam Roxby

    Hello all

    I can see that this is a contentious issue and I would like to offer my own opinions. The Student Nursing Times is still in its relative infancy so new ideas and formats are coming through and it seems only right that we ask opinions of the readers about the sort of content they would like to see.

    On the point of professionalism, Mike, I have no doubt that you are professional but the issue of peoples prejudice should be raised in a forum such as this. During the course of a three-year nursing education there are going to be some difficult subjects and issues that students may not have been exposed to before. I know of so many people who've just come fresh from college and have had no experience with people from different backgrounds let alone some of the other unique experiences that being a nurse can throw up. So if issues like this are not dealt with in a publication designed to prepare students for their professional role as a nurse, then I am wondering in what form will the conversation take and where?

    The purpose of this site (in my opinion) is to not only provide education, opinion and entertainment but also to explore some of the controversial and contentious issues around healthcare. The balance may be wrong or might need some adjustment but with the interaction of our readers then I am confident we will get there.

    Thanks once again for your comments.

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  • Nadine, students or qualified, it does not matter. Both are professional enough groups to not have the assumption that we WILL automatically be prejudiced forced upon us. I find that highly insulting, just as I would have done as a student. Dressing it up as 'exploring issues' or 'difficult subjects' does not cut it Adam. Assuming we will be prejudiced is a form of prejudice in itself. The NMC code of conduct states nurses must demonstrate a professional and personal commitment to equality and diversity, we know this, we adhere to it not because it is in the code, but because it is morally right.

    Incorporating cultural contextual care into practice can be discussed very easily without the assumption that we all must reflect and change because we will automatically be prejudiced! Just because someone has not been exposed to a particular ethnic, cultural or social group, Adam, does not mean that they - as the title says - 'be biased toward them'!

    Why not simply have an article simply explaining the basic tenets of any given cultural group and how these can be incorporated into everyday care?

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  • As a 3rd year student - no, I do not find this article useful, its discriminatory - as nurses we do not and should not discriminate - like Ive said before, we treat and care for people with dignity, compassion etc etc, adhering to professional code of conduct and, like Mike said, behaving in a way that is morally right as professionals should do.

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  • I agree that many nurses, students and qualified, strive to maintain a professional attitude and bearing. However, I find it somewhat naive to say that because we are nurses we do not discriminate. At the end of the day, we are all human and, through our life experience, will have developed prejudices, biases and preferences - not necessarily to the extent that we are, for example, overtly racist or homophobic, but enough that we make judgements to some degree. As nurses and reflective practitioners, we should be empowered to recognise and acknowledge our prejudices. Through reflection, we come to understand how they impact on our practice and we can modify our behaviour and attitudes accordingly.
    We have a duty to not only challenge our own prejudices but to educate and inspire others. For those that find this article insulting, although we are all nominally 'professionals', i would suggest that some are more professional than others and there are those who perhaps need a little more guidance and support in achieving the desired level in their practice.

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  • Anonymous

    I would like to add that the number of times I have heard nurses say words to the effect 'of course we all treat people equally' or quote Rogers core conditions with silvery tongue and then go on to say eye wateringly racist or offensive things without batting an eyelid.
    Its all very well to be saying we shouldn't do or say......but the casual prejudice that we're not aware of and just rolls of the tongue is what more often causes the offence as it is considered 'normal'
    A recent example, that is printable, is a colleague who was relating a busy day and longing for the end of the day ending her comment by '...and then you know you're going to get a gypsy woman in ...'
    actually I don't even feel comfortable writing the rest of the comment, however on challenging her she just defended what she'd said as 'normal', everyone else laughed!
    So although we don't think we do or say prejudiced things actually people do, every day, with no awareness or acknowledgement even when pointed out.

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  • Kerry, I am not saying that discrimination does not take place, you are absolutely right that we are as human as any other group in society and subject to the same flaws. However, that is different to our actions as professionals. Also, whilst there may be some who are biased, I would argue the vast majority would not be. What I am railing against however is the automatic assumption we will be by articles such as this, with the attitude 'you will be biased and prejudiced, so how do you change that behaviour.'

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  • Adam Roxby

    Hello everyone .

    I just wanted to offer a few more points of clarification. I had no hand in the writing of this article so I can only surmise at it's intent.

    Before this article was published I had already begun writing a piece about prejudice as a whole and to give you a little taster of what the article contains; we all have prejudice. I think we have to be clear at what prejudices isnt. It is not a rampant, destructive emotion or act that necessarily impacts at the conscious level. I want to make it clear that I believe the majority of nurses can offer the highest level of care to anybody irrespective of what their background or current situation is but if we want to be honest we have to say that every person or situation that we encounter gives an instantaneous and unconscious judgement from us before our rationale and professionalism kicks in. 

    So perhaps some of the wording in  my response could have been different but I think the general intention is a good one. As a profession we don't have to be so heavy-handed in dealing with issues surrounding prejudice or other subjects . I honestly don't think we need to be told so implicitly that we must treat everybody with the same high standards. Perhaps a generalised discussion about the issue of prejudice, would that  be more useful? 

    Impartiality and objectivity are concepts which don't survive long out in the real-world environment and talking about it and recognising that doesn't hurt the profession. In my opinion it strengthens it. 

    In closing, I just want to say that I'm really pleased that I am part of a community in a forum which fosters such spirited debate.

    I wouldn't want to have it any other way.

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