Background: Social accountability is an important element in health system governance, which is necessary for health system reform and reaching Universal Health Coverage. Understanding the social accountability mechanism and tools will help policymakers to design policies according to the context. We aimed to explore the extent of the application of social accountability in health system governance, its results, challenges, and tools.

Methods: We conducted a scoping review study, using the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses (PRISMA) extension for scoping review. An inclusive search in bibliographic databases and search engines was done to identify peer review articles and grey literatures, published in English in the range of 2010 to 2021. Search terms were (social accountability), (public accountability), AND (health system).

Results: Thirty-one records met inclusion criteria from 286 potentially relevant sources, which included 25 peer-review articles and 6 grey literatures. Maternal and child health was the main health subject for social accountability interventions. We identified some social accountability tools to apply at the health facility and community levels. Social accountability has some benefits for the health system and for the community and some challenges to the implementation of social accountability were listed.

Conclusion: Social accountability improves health system performance. It contains different tools and strategies applied at different levels of the health system. Successful social accountability initiatives that are strategic, multi-interventional, and context-specific can produce good results in health services and social domains.

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