Near Two Decades of the Family Physician Program in Iran and the Structural Challenges: A Systematic Review

Abtin Heidarzadeh, Bita Hedayati, Mark K. Huntington, Zahra Hamidi Madani, Babak Farrokhi, Farzad Mohseni, Ideh Dadgaran, Roksana Mirkazemi


The family physician program (FPP) is one of the most significant health care reforms in Iran; however, many studies showed that this program has not been able to achieve its intended objectives because of a variety of challenges. This program, despite the existing challenges, is going to be expanded across the country. To improve the likelihood of its success, identification of the structural and infrastructural challenges is necessary. This systematic review was conducted to assess the structural and infrastructural challenges of FPP in Iran. This systematic review of the literature was conducted in order to investigate the infrastructure and structure needs of the current program in Iran. All published articles related to the FPP in Iran were the subject of this study. The eligibility criteria included original articles, reviews, or case studies published in English or Persian during 2011–2021 related to the challenges in the referral system of FPP in Iran. Data were extracted based on Sample, Phenomenon of Interest, Design, Evaluation, Research type technique and were reported based on the structure of Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta‑Analyses. International credible scholarly databases were searched. The search strategy was defined based on keywords and the search syntax. This study identified different challenges of the referral system in the areas associated with legal structure, administration, and social structure. The identified challenges in this program should be addressed in order to ensure that this program will lead to improved quality of care and equity in Iran health care system.


Family; health plan implementation; health systems plan; managed care programs; physicians

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