Given the potential of intersectionality to identify the causes of inequalities, there is a growing tendency toward applying it in the field of health. Nevertheless, the extent of the application of intersectionality in designing and implementing health interventions is unclear. Therefore, this study aimed to determine the extent to which previous studies have applied intersectionality and its principles in designing and implementing health interventions.
The title and abstract of the articles which were published in different databases e.g. PubMed, Web of Science, Proquest, Embase, Scopus, Cochrane, and PsychInfo were screened. Those articles that met the screening criteria were reviewed in full text. The data about the application of principles of intersectionality, according to the stages heuristic model (problem identification, design & implementation, and evaluation), were extracted through a 38-item researcher-made checklist.
Initially, 2677 articles were found through reviewing the target databases. After removing the duplicated ones and screening the titles and abstracts of 1601 studies, 107 articles were selected to be reviewed in detail and 4 articles could meet the criteria. The most frequently considered intersectionality principles were “intersecting categories” and “power”, particularly at the stages of ‘problem identification’ as well as ‘design & implementation’. The results showed that “multilevel analysis” principle received less attention; most of the studies conducted the interventions at the micro level and did not aim at bringing about change at structural levels. There was a lack of clarity regarding the attention to some of the main items of principles such as “reflexivity” as well as “social justice and equity”. These principles might have been implemented in the selected articles; however, the authors have not explicitly discussed them in their studies.
Given the small number of included studies, there is still insufficient evidence within empirical studies to show the implication of intersectionality in designing and conducting health interventions. To operationalize the intersectionality, there is a need to address the principles at various stages of health policies and interventions. To this end, designing and availability of user-friendly tools may help researchers and health policymakers appropriately apply the intersectionality.