Evidence shows that the Roma people engage less in democratic processes than the majority population. Rather than being involved in the planning of measurements and proposals, the Roma people have been treated as a helpless group in need of expert support from the authorities. To enable Roma people to take a leading role in their integration process a 2-year action research was implemented in 2010-2012. The idea was to strengthen the Roma Peoples’ critical health literacy which allows them to analyze and apply health information to oppose the forces that are holding them oppressed and to take better control over their life situation. The objective of this paper is to discuss methodological issues based on experiences of the use of participatory research approach in increasing health literacy. Methods: The core of the intervention was ‘training of trainers’ of a group of Roma people from western Sweden. They organized lectures on Roma issues for the civil servants and mobilized the Roma community for social action. The data, consisting of observational notes, reports, and participant interviews, were analysed qualitatively. Results: The intervention created an arena for dialogue between the Roma people and the public service employees. Their mutual viewpoints improved as their insight into each other’s life circumstances increased. However, rigidity and an inability to see the character of the emancipatory approach of the project by the authorities created difficulties for its implementation. Conclusions: The Roma participants’ strengthened critical health literacy improved their health chances and possibilities for participation in working life and decision making on Roma issues. The existing system of rules for project operations clashed with the character of the “soft” bottom-up approach of the project. This created situations where the project spent more time working with the rules of the authorities than with the purpose of the project.
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IUHPE 21st World Conference on Health Promotion 2013