Challenges of Rural Family Physician Policy in Iran

Lida Shams, Taha Nasiri, Mohamad M. Amiri, Zohreh Abdolahi


As per the goals of the family physician program, it is essential to pay attention to the effectiveness and performance of FPP. Although the implementation of the FPP program is an important development in the discussion of rural health insurance and the provision of health services and referral systems in the country, the evidence suggests that by identifying challenges and taking appropriate action, this plan can be improved. This study aimed to investigate the challenges of rural Family Physician Policy (FPP) in northern Iran. This study comprised a mixed method. The former intended to identify the challenges of rural FFP using the narrative review method. To achieve a comprehensive list of challenges, a narrative review and content analysis were performed and semi‑structured interviews were held with key stakeholders of FPP in the north of Iran, including physicians, managers, and policymakers. Identified challenges were categorized into eight categories including the weakness of the health insurance system, low comprehensiveness of executive guidelines, inappropriate recruitment and maintenance of human resources, weakness of cultural context, low efficacy of health information management system, poor educational effectiveness, inappropriate motivational mechanisms, and weakness of the referral system. As per the quantitative findings, “weakness of the referral system” and “inappropriate recruitment and maintenance of human resources” had the lowest and highest weaknesses, respectively. To address existing challenges in the rural FPP, a comprehensive plan of action should be developed with an emphasis on human resource management, health information management system, comprehensive rural health insurance, and legislation.


Family physician; health services; referral system; rural FPP; rural health insurance

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