Health inequities are among debatable and challenging aspects of health systems. Achieving equity through social determinants of health approach has been mentioned in most upstream national plans and acts in Iran. This paper reports the findings of a systematic review of the current synthesized evidence on health equity in Iran.
This is a narrative systematic review. The relevant concepts and terminology in health equity was found through MeSH. We retrieved the relevant studies from PubMed/MedLine, Social Sciences Database, and Google Scholar in English, plus the Jihad University Database (SID), and Google Scholar in Farsi databases from 1979 until the end of January 2018. The retrieved evidence has been assessed primarily based on PICOS criteria and then Ottawa-Newcastle Scale, and CASP for qualitative studies. We used PRISMA flow diagram and a narrative approach for synthesizing the evidence.
We retrieved 172 455 studies. Following the primary and quality appraisal process, 114 studies were entered in the final phase of the analysis. The main part (approximately 95%) of the final phase included cross-sectional studies that had been analyzed through current descriptive inequality analysis indicators, analytical regression, or decomposition-based approaches. The studies were categorized within 3 main groups: health outcomes (40.3%), health utilization (32%), and health expenditures (27%).
As a part of understanding the current situation of health equity in the policymakers’ need to refer the retrieved evidence in this study, they need more inputs specially regarding the social determinants of health approach. It seems that health equity research plan in Iran needs to be redirected in new paths that give appropriate weights to biological, gene-based, environmental and context-based, economic, social, and political aspects of health as well.
We advocate addressing the aspects of Social Determinant of Health (SDH) in analyzing health inequalities.