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1.  Commercialization of biopharmaceutical knowledge in Iran; challenges and solutions 
The objective of this study was to investigate the application of the university research findings or commercialization of the biopharmaceutical knowledge in Iran and determine the challenges and propose some solutions.
A qualitative study including 19 in-depth interviews with experts was performed in 2011 and early 2012. National Innovation System (NIS) model was employed as the study design. Thematic method was applied for the analysis. The results demonstrate that policy making, regulations and management development are considered as fundamental reasons for current commercialization practice pattern. It is suggested to establish foundation for higher level documents that would involve relating bodies and provide them operational guidelines for the implementation of commercialization incentives.
Policy, regulations and management as the most influential issue should be considered for successful commercialization. The present study, for the first time, attempts to disclose the importance of evidence input for measures in order to facilitate the commercialization process by the authorities in Iran. Overall, the NIS model should be considered and utilized as one of the effective solutions for commercialization.
PMCID: PMC3974067  PMID: 24568555
Knowledge translation; Biopharmaceutical research; Facilitators and barriers
2.  Comparing dietary patterns of depressed patients versus healthy people in a case control protocol 
BMJ Open  2014;4(2):e003843.
Major depressive disorder is the leading cause of disability around the world. Because of the high rate of medication discontinuation by patients and the risk of recurrence, factors such as nutrition could be useful for the prevention or treatment of depression. The relationship between depression and dietary patterns has been reported in a few studies but with controversial results. Therefore, we have decided to study the possible effects of cultural, social, racial, geographic and environmental conditions on this relationship in an Iranian population.
Methods and analysis
In our case control protocol, 110 cases and 220 controls will be individually matched based on age, sex and area of residence. New cases of depression, based on the criteria of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, fourth edition (DSM-IV), will be recruited from two psychiatric clinics in Tehran. Interviewers will then go to each patient's home and invite qualified individuals to participate in the study as controls. Food intakes of all participants will be obtained by semiquantitative food frequency questionnaires covering the past year; these will be transformed into actual food intake (g/day). Dietary patterns will be determined by the principal components method. Conditional logistic regression, as a multivariate analysis, will be used for assessing the relationship between dietary patterns and depression, taking into consideration the potential role of different variables. The results may help to identify differences in dietary patterns between depressed and healthy people.
Ethics and dissemination
The study protocol has been approved by ethics committee of Tehran University of Medical Sciences. At the beginning of the study, a written informed consent form will be signed and dated by subjects and investigators. The results will be published in due time.
PMCID: PMC3927997  PMID: 24525387
Epidemiology; Nutrition & Dietetics
3.  Constructing Pragmatic Socioeconomic Status Assessment Tools to Address Health Equality Challenges 
A key challenge for equality evaluation and monitoring, mainly in developing countries, is assessing socioeconomic status (SES) of individuals. This difficulty along with low technical competency, have resulted in many health information collected in these countries which are devoid of suitable SES indices. However, simplifying data collection requirements for estimating economic parameters seems to guarantee their wide adoption by survey and health information system (HIS) designers, resulting in immediate production of equity-oriented policy-relevant information. The goal of this study is obtaining adequate number of variables, which their combination can provide a valid assessment of SES in Iranian population.
The data source was Living Standards Measurement Study of Iran (2006). Data of 27,000 households on the ownership of 33 household assets was used for this analysis. Households of this study were divided into 5 groups in terms of SES status using principle component analysis. Then selection was made among the 33 variables so that a combination with minimum necessary number for obtaining SES status is reached. Agreement of the new combination (including minimum number of variables) with full variable combination (including all 33 variables) was assessed using weighted kappa.
A minimum set of six variables including having kitchen, bathroom, vacuum cleaner, washing machine, freezer and personal computer could successfully discriminate SES of the population. Comparing this 6 item-index with the whole 33 item-index revealed that 65% of households were in the same quintiles, with a weighted kappa statistics of 0.76. For households in different quintiles, movement was generally limited to one quintile, with just 2% of households moving two or more quintiles.
The proposed simple index is completely applicable in current Iran's society. It can be used in different survey and studies. The development is quite simple and can be done on a yearly basis using the updated National level data. Having such standardized simplified and up to date SES indices and incorporating them into all health data sources can potentially ease the measurement and monitoring of equity of health services and indices.
PMCID: PMC3915472  PMID: 24554991
Equality; Iran; socioeconomic status measurement
4.  Knowledge translation in Iranian universities: need for serious interventions 
The aim of this study was to assess the status of knowledge translation (KT) in Iranian medical science universities in order to assess the strengths and weaknesses of the most important organizations responsible for producing knowledge in the country.
The KT activities were assessed qualitatively and quantitatively in nine universities using the Self-Assessment Tool for Research Institutes.
The strengths and weaknesses of universities were determined using seven main themes: priority setting; research quality and timeliness; researchers’ KT capacities; interaction with research users; the facilities and prerequisites of KT; the processes and regulations supporting KT; and promoting and evaluating the use of evidence.
The quantitative and qualitative results showed that the Iranian universities did not have an appropriate context for KT. There were significant shortcomings in supportive regulations, facilities for KT activities, and the level of interaction between the researchers and research users.
The shortcomings in KT were mostly in the area of stewardship and policymaking (macro level), followed by planning and implementation at the universities. In order to strengthen KT in Iran, it should occupy a prominent and focused role in the strategies of the country’s health research system.
PMCID: PMC3835863  PMID: 24225146
6.  How to Implement Clinical Practice Guidelines in Iran 
Evidence-based medicine would come to the result by evidence-based implementation. Clinical Practice Guidelines (CPG) as one of the evidence-based knowledge products requires appropriate interventions after being produced to be applied.
The aim of this qualitative study was to identify the strategies for application of CPGs produced in Iran.
Materials and Methods:
The purposive snowball sampling was performed and it continued until reaching the theoretical saturation. In-depth semistructured individual interviews and Focus Group Discussion (FGD) were performed aiming at triangulation. The thematic framework approach was used for the analysis.
Twelve interviews were conducted with three health system policy makers and decision makers, four experienced in the production or adaptation of clinical practices, and five experts in evidence-based medicine development and education. In addition, 11 policy makers, managers, and decision makers of the health system took part in FGD. The proposed interventions were classified in the following themes: Health professionals-oriented, Financial, Organizational, Regulatory, and Multifaceted interventions.
Along with adaptation and development process of CPGs, their utilization should also be planned; otherwise spent time and money would be in vain. Certainly, imposing above-mentioned interventions with the ultimate goal of sustainable behavior change in health system service providers is beyond the capacity of specific groups or few academic centers. It requires the participation of all practitioners under the monitoring and support of the Ministry of Health and Medical Education. Deployment of the family physician plan and referral system is an opportunity which must be considered a trophy.
PMCID: PMC3971789  PMID: 24719697
Practice Guidelines; Health Plan Implementation; Early Intervention
7.  The perspectives of iranian physicians and patients towards patient decision aids: a qualitative study 
BMC Research Notes  2013;6:379.
Patient preference is one of the main components of clinical decision making, therefore leading to the development of patient decision aids. The goal of this study was to describe physicians’ and patients’ viewpoints on the barriers and limitations of using patient decision aids in Iran, their proposed solutions, and, the benefits of using these tools.
This qualitative study was conducted in 2011 in Iran by holding in-depth interviews with 14 physicians and 8 arthritis patient. Interviewees were selected through purposeful and maximum variation sampling. As an example, a patient decision aid on the treatment of knee arthritis was developed upon literature reviews and gathering expert opinion, and was presented at the time of interview. Thematic analysis was conducted to analyze the data by using the OpenCode software.
The results were summarized into three categories and ten codes. The extracted categories were the perceived benefits of using the tools, as well as the patient-related and physician-related barriers in using decision aids. The following barriers in using patient decision aids were identified in this study: lack of patients and physicians’ trainings in shared decision making, lack of specialist per capita, low treatment tariffs and lack of an exact evaluation system for patient participation in decision making.
No doubt these barriers demand the health authorities’ special attention. Hence, despite patients and physicians’ inclination toward using patient decision aids, these problems have hindered the practical usage of these tools in Iran - as a developing country.
PMCID: PMC3849268  PMID: 24066792
Patient decision aid tool; Qualitative study; Iran
8.  A social network analysis on clinical education of diabetic foot 
Identification of Educational Influentials (EIs) in clinical settings helps considerably to knowledge transfer among health and medical practice providers. The aim of this study was identifying EIs in diabetic foot ulcers (DFU) by medical students (clerks, interns and residents) and providing their relational pattern in this subject.
Subjects were medical students at clerk, intern and resident levels in a local educational hospital. A standard questionnaire with four domains (knowledge, communication, participation and professional ethics) was used for identifying EIs. Students introduced those people with these characteristics who referred them for DFU. Respective communication networks were drawn as intra-group (such as resident-resident) and inter-group (such as intern-resident) networks and quantitative criteria of density, in-degree and out-degree centrality and reciprocity were measured.
The network density of clerks-residents (0.024) and interns-residents (0.038) were higher than clerks-attends (0.015) and interns-attends (0.05); indicating that there were more consulting interactions in former networks than the latter. Degree centrality in residents-related networks (clerks-residents = 2.3; interns-residents = 2.6) were higher than attends-related ones (clerks-attends = 1.1; interns-attends = 1.7), while they were not statistically significant. However, In-degree centralization, which indicating a degree of variance of the whole network of ingoing relationships, in attends-related networks was greater than resident-related networks.
Resident were consulted with almost as same as attends on DFU. It showed that residents were playing a remarkable role in knowledge transfer and they can be considered as EIs in this clinical setting. It seemed that the availability was the main reason for this key role.
PMCID: PMC3879216  PMID: 24330538
9.  Disease Surveillance and Private Sector in the Metropolitans: A Troublesome Collaboration 
An effective response to health problems is completely dependent upon the capacities of the health system in providing timely and valid information to take action. This study was designed to identify various reasons from various perspectives for underreporting disease by physicians in the private sector in big cities in developing countries setting.
In this qualitative study, we used focus group discussions (16 manager), and in-depth semi-structured interviews
Themes were classified in 6 categories: Infrastructure and legal issues, the priority of disease reporting, workflow processes, motivation and attitude, human resources and knowledge and awareness. As the main reasons of under reporting, most physicians pointed out complicacy in reporting process and inadequate attention by the public sector. Managers emphasized instituting legal incentives and penalties. Experts focused on physicians’ knowledge and expressed a need for continuing medical education programs.
Independent interventions will have little chance of success and sustainability. Different intervention programs should consider legal issues, attitude and knowledge of physicians in the private sector, and building a simple reporting process for physicians. Intervention programs in which the reporting process offers incentives for all stakeholders can help improving and sustaining the disease reporting system.
PMCID: PMC3793485  PMID: 24130945
Iran; notification; public health practice; reporting
10.  Conducting International Diploma Course on Malaria Program Planning and Management (1996–2012) 
Malaria is still a public health problem in the world. One of the main objectives of World Health organization is capacity building of authorities who are involved with malaria control activities.
The first course was conducted in 1996 in Bandar Abbas Training center. The course was conducted jointly by the Ministry of Health and Medical Education of Iran, WHO-EMRO and School of Public health, Tehran university of Medical Sciences. In year 2002, Iran has been designated as WHO regional Malaria Training Center. Prior to initiate the course, pre-test evaluations including 11 subjects were carried out. The examinations include multiple choice questions. Different methods of teaching including lecture, laboratory, workshop, team work, field exercise and presentation were used. The duration of the course was 9 weeks. A total of 360 contact hours were taught. The main subjects were Basic epidemiology and Simple Statistics, Malaria Parasitology, Malaria disease Management, Malaria Entomology, Vector Control, Epidemiological approach, Filed work and Planning.
The requirement for achievement of the course was to have at least 60% of the total mark for awarding the diploma certificate. The 13th course was conducted by the financial support of Islamic Development Bank (IDB).
A total of 300 participants from 26 different countries have been graduated from these courses so far.
This course is providing the skill for decision making, how to combat against malaria in their country and is parallel to the policy of the malaria control for capacity building in malarious areas of the world.
PMCID: PMC3875876  PMID: 24409435
Malaria; Course; Iran
11.  Socioeconomic Inequality of Non-Communicable Risk Factors among People Living in Kurdistan Province, Islamic Republic of Iran 
The most fundamental way to decrease the burden of noncommunicable diseases (NCDs) is to identify and control their related risk factors. The goal of this study is to determine socioeconomic inequalities in risk factors for NCDs using concentration index based on Non-Communicable Disease Surveillance Survey (NCDSS) data in Kurdistan province, Islamic Republic of Iran in 2005 and 2009.
The required data for this study are taken from two NCDSSs in Kurdistan province in 2005 and 2009. A total of 2,494 persons in 2005 and 997 persons in 2009 were assessed. Concentration index was used to determine socioeconomic inequality. To assess the relationship between the prevalence of each risk factor and socioeconomic status (SES), logistic regression was used and odds ratio (OR) was calculated for each group, compared with the poorest group.
The concentration index for hypertension was -0.095 (-0.158, -0.032) in 2005 and -0.080 (-0.156, -0.003) in 2009. The concentration index for insufficient consumption of fruits and vegetables was -0.117 (-0.153, -0.082) in 2005 and -0.100 (-0.153, -0.082) in 2009. The concentration index for the consumption of unhealthy fat and oil was -0.034 (-0.049, -0.019) in 2005 and -0.108 (-0.165, -0.051) in 2009. The concentration index for insufficient consumption of fish was -0.070 (-0.096, -0.044) in 2005. The concentration index for physical inactivity was 0.008 (-0.057, 0.075) in 2005 and 0.139 (0.063, 0.215) in 2009. In all the cases, the OR of the richest group to the poorest group was significant.
Hypertension, insufficient consumption of fruits and vegetables, consumption of unhealthy fat and oil, and insufficient consumption of fish are more prevalent among poor groups. There was no significant socioeconomic inequality in the distribution of smoking, excess weight, and hypercholesterolemia. Physical inactivity was more prevalent among the rich groups of society in 2009. The reduction of socioeconomic inequalities must become a main goal in health-care policies.
PMCID: PMC3733035  PMID: 23930185
Concentration index; inequality; Iran; non communicable diseases; socioeconomic status
12.  How Mental Illness is Perceived by Iranian Medical Students: A Preliminary Study 
The study aimed to assess medical students' attitudes toward mental illness following a 4-week psychiatry clerkship. All fifth-year medical students from three academic centers in Tehran were asked to participate in the study. They completed the questionnaire on the last day of their 4-week psychiatry clerkship. A self-administered questionnaire was used to examine participants' Attitudes Toward Mental Illness (ATMI). One hundred and sixty eight students completed the questionnaires (88.9% response rate). In general, the students had favorable attitudes toward mental illness at the end of their clerkship, with mean (± SD) ATMI total score of 78.6 (± 8.1) (neutral score, 66.0). The students showed the most favorable opinion (95.2%) about Category 5 (stereotypic attitude toward people with mental illness) whilst they revealed the least favorable opinion (64.3%) regarding Category 1 (social relations with people affected by mental illness). In addition, the students thought that movies were on the top of influential media on shaping the attitudes toward mental illness. Overall, most of Iranian medical students had generally favorable attitudes toward people with mental illness at the end of their clerkship. Therefore, it may be expected next generation of medical doctors show more favorable attitude toward mental illness.
PMCID: PMC3715759  PMID: 23878611
Attitude; health personnel; medical students; mental disorders; public opinion; population.
13.  What Motivates Talented Medical Students to Study Simultaneously at Master of Public Health (MPH)? 
Iranian Journal of Public Health  2013;42(4):402-409.
Nearly three decades ago, the Master of Public Health (MPH) academic degree was introduced to Tehran University of Medical Sciences’ School of Public Health, Tehran, Iran. A new program for simultaneous education of medical, pharmaceutical and dental students was initiated in 2006. Talented students had the opportunity to study MPH simultaneously. There were some concerns about this kind of admission; as to whether these students who were not familiar with the health system had the appropriate attitude and background for this field of education. And with the present rate of brain drain, is this just a step towards their immigration without the fulfillment of public health?
This qualitative study was conducted in 2012 where 26 students took part in focused group discussions and individual interviews. The students were questioned about their motivation and the program’s impact on their future career. The participants’ statements were analyzed using thematic analysis.
The primary motivations of students who entered this program were: learning health knowledge related issues, gaining a perspective beyond clinical practice, obtaining a degree to strengthen their academic résumé, immigration, learning academic research methods and preparing for the management of health systems in the future.
Apparently, there was no considerable difference between the motivation of students and the program planners. The students’ main motivation for studying MPH was a combination of various interests in research and health sciences issues. Therefore, considering the potential of this group of students, effective academic investment on MPH can have positive impact.
PMCID: PMC3684727  PMID: 23785680
Curriculum; Graduate; Administration; Public health; Education; Iran
14.  Barriers of Clinical Practice Guidelines Development and Implementation in Developing Countries: A Case Study in Iran 
Knowledge products such as clinical practice guidelines (CPG) are vitally required for evidence-based medicine (EBM). Although the EBM, to some extent, has been attended during recent years, no result has achieved thus far. The current qualitative study is to identify the barriers to establishing development system and implementation of CPGs in Iran.
Twelve semi-structured, in-depth interviews were conducted with a purposive sample of health policy and decision makers, the experts of development and or adaptation of CPGs, and the experts of EBM education and development. In addition, 11 policy-makers, decision-makers, and managers of the health system participated in a focus group discussion. The analysis of the study data was undertaken by thematic framework approach.
Six themes emerged in order of their frequency include practice environment, evidence-based health care system, individual professional, politician and political context, innovation (CPG) and patients. Most of the indications in the treatment environment focused on such sub-themes as regulations and rules, economical factors, organizational context, and social context.
While the barriers related to the conditions of treatment environment, service provider and the features of innovation and patients had been identified before in other studies, very little attention has been paid to the evidence-based health care system and politician and political context
The lack of an evidence-based healthcare system and a political macro support are mentioned as the key barriers in Iran as a developing country. The establishment of a system of development and implementation of CPGs as the evidence-based practice tools will not be possible, unless the barriers are removed.
PMCID: PMC3634174  PMID: 23626892
Barriers; clinical practice guideline; development; health care system; implementation; qualitative study
15.  Only One Third of Tehran's Physicians are Familiar with ‘Evidence-Based Clinical Guidelines’ 
Clinical guidelines have increasingly been used as tools for applying new knowledge and research findings. Although, efforts have been made to produce clinical guidelines in Iran, it is not clear whether they have been used by physicians and what factors are associated with them?.
Four hundred and forty three practicing physicians in Tehran were selected from private clinics through weighted random sampling. The data collection tool was a questionnaire on familiarity and attitude toward clinical guidelines. The descriptive and analytical findings were analyzed with t-tests, Chi2, logistic and linear multivariate regression by SPSS, version 16.
31.8% of physicians were familiar with clinical guidelines. Based on the logistic regression model physicians’ familiarity with clinical guidelines was positively and significantly associated with ‘working experience in a health service delivery point’ OR = 2.13 (95% CI, 1.17-3.90), ‘familiarity with therapeutic protocols’ OR = 2.09 (95% CI, 1.22-3.57) and ‘holding a specialty degree’ OR = 2.51 (95% CI, 1.24-5.07). The mean overall attitude scores in the ‘usefulness’, ‘reliability’, and ‘problems and barriers’ domains were, respectively, 78.9 (SD = 16.5), 78.9 (SD = 19.7) and 50.4 (SD = 15.9) out of a total of 100 scores in each domain. No significant association was observed between attitude domains and other independent variables using multivariate linear regression.
Little familiarity with clinical guidelines may represent weakness in of production and distribution of domestic evidence. Although, physicians considered guidelines as useful and reliable tools, but problems such as difficult access to guidelines and lack of facilities to apply them were stated as well.
PMCID: PMC3634175  PMID: 23626893
Attitude; clinical guidelines; evidence-based medicine; physician
16.  What must be the Pillars of Iran’s Health System in 2025? Values and Principles of Health System Reform Plan 
Iranian Journal of Public Health  2013;42(2):197-205.
Preparing long term reformatory plan for the health system, like other macro plans, requires guiding principles which is according to the values, and as a bridge, connect the ideals and values to the goals. This study was designed with the purpose of explaining the values and principles of health system, and as a pre-requisite to compilation of Iran’s health system reform plan at 2025.
The document of values and principles of health system reform plan for 2025 was developed by reviewing the literature and receiving the opinions of senior experts of health system, and was criticized in focus group discussion sessions of experts and decision makers.
The values of Iran are: dignity of human, the right to maximum attainable level of health, comprehensive health, equity and social cohesion. The principles of this health system include: institutionalizing the ethical values, responsiveness and accountability, equitable access (utilization), prevention and health promotion, community participation, inter-sectoral collaboration, integrated stewardship, benefit from innovation and desired technology, human resources promotion and excellence and harmony.
Based on the perception of cultural and religious teachings in Iran, protecting of human dignity and human prosperity are the ultimate social goal. In this sense, health and healthy humans, in its holistic concept (physical, mental, social health and spiritual) are the center and development in any form should lead to the human prosperity in a way that each of the individuals could enjoy the maximum attainable level of health in its holistic meaning and in a faire manner.
PMCID: PMC3595652  PMID: 23515322
Health system; Value; Principle; Iran
17.  Malaria Elimination in Iran, Importance and Challenges 
The aim of study is to assess the importance and challenges of Malaria elimination (ME) in Iran's health system.
Opinion of experts from Ministry of Health and Medical Education and the chancellors of medical universities affected by malaria were gathered using Focus Group Discussions and in-depth interviews. We asked them about the importance and main challenges of ME in Iran.
Main factors on importance of ME were: it's a struggle to reach to equity in the poorest regions of county, prevention of emerging disease in susceptible regions, lowering the cost of control and its effects on the region's socioeconomic condition. Main challenges were Iran's long border with malaria-endemic countries Pakistan and Afghanistan and illegal immigrants, underdevelopment in rural areas, system's insensitivity and diagnosis problem due to reduction of cases.
Quantitative and holistic researches are needed for assessing the consequences of ME.
PMCID: PMC3570917  PMID: 23413116
Malaria; Prevention and control; Iran; Impact
18.  Timeliness of Malaria Surveillance System in Iran 
We aimed to evaluate the timeliness of reporting of malaria surveillance system and understanding the existing problems.
The timeliness of malaria surveillance system of Iran was evaluated in four provinces of Iran including Sistan & Baluchistan, Hormozgan, Kerman (as provinces with local malaria transmission) and Khuzestan (without local malaria transmission). In this descriptive-analytic cross-sectional study two levels of Primary Health Care service providers including first level (Health Houses) and second level (Urban or Rural Health care units) were evaluated with regard to reporting of malaria surveillance system.
Forms number 1 (87% reported within one day) and number 2 (reporting median: 2 days) are reported from first level to second level, and forms number 4 (median: 4 days), number 3 (median: 6 days), number 7 (median: 9 days), number 5 (median: 11 days) and number 6 (median: 19 days) are reported from second level to the third level respectively in a shorter time. Independent variables such as distance, local malaria transmission level, and case finding type, are the factors affecting the reporting delay.
Reporting in the first level compared to the second level is done with lower delay. In the areas where there is a deadline set for reporting, reporting is done more timely. Whatever number of malaria cases is decreased, sensitivity and subsequently timeliness reduced. It is recommended that the studies of timeliness be done with sensitivity and usefulness analysis of surveillance system.
PMCID: PMC3595634  PMID: 23515191
Timeliness; Malaria; Surveillance system; Iran
19.  Health Emergency Mass Notification: Lessons Learnt from the H1N1 Pandemic in Tehran 
Timely notification is of great importance in health emergencies. So identifying the most important sources of information used by people in emergencies seems necessary. The objective of this study was to assess peoples’ level of awareness concerning the symptoms, routes of transmission, prevention, and treatment of H1N1 at the time of the pandemic and also to identify their most important source of information.
Two telephone surveys were performed at the beginning of levels five and six of the pandemic at a four-month interval on two populations. Using a questionnaire, random phone numbers were called and 662 and 701 individuals from Tehran were surveyed at the two phases, respectively.
Peoples’ level of awareness concerning the disease, symptoms, its routes of transmission, prevention, and treatment of H1N1 had increased in the second phase of the study. At the same time, people were less afraid of the disease in the second phase. The most important sources of information used were TV, newspapers, and radio, respectively.
Mass media including TV and newspapers were recognized as the most important sources of information used by the people in emergencies. It seems that designing educational programs and synchronizing the media's policies with health authorities can help fight future health emergencies and prevent delays in notifying people.
PMCID: PMC3530304  PMID: 23272285
Epidemics; emergency; health promotion; mass media; swine flu
20.  Reasons for Physicians’ Tendency to Irrational Prescription of Corticosteroids 
According to World Health Organization (WHO) estimation, more than half of all pharmaceutical products are inappropriately prescribed, distributed, and sold and more than half of all patients use the medicines prescribed for them incorrectly. As more than 40% of therapeutic costs are pharmaceutical costs, this implies a significant waste of health resources in the world.
To find effective factors in irrational prescription of corticosteroids in Iran and design suitable interventions to decrease prescription rates of corticosteroids.
Materials and Methods
A qualitative study was performed in 2009 on fifteen general practitioners in two groups identified by high and low corticosteroid prescription rates. Data analysis was performed by thematic analysis and the study's validity was based on training interviewers, use of interview guide, avoidance of imposing opinions, coding by two independent persons and use of all opinions obtained in the analysis.
The effective factors in irrational prescription of corticosteroids can be divided into four categories: lack of knowledge, patient-physician relationship in terms of monetary cost, poor availability of proper alternative medicines and weak supervision of regulatory bodies. As the same results were found in both groups regarding the role of regulatory organizations and availability of alternative medicines, it seems that interventions in knowledge and the patient-physician relationship which were different in the two groups can be more effective for reduction of prescription in high rate prescribers although intervention in regulatory supervision and medicine availability could have a moderate effect in both groups. In addition the common feature in all the above categories was the gap between knowledge and actual practice which is significant on three regulatory levels, supervisors, physicians and patients, and should be noted for intervention design.
The interventions applied in other countries can also be effective in decreasing irrational prescription of corticosteroids in Iran. These interventions include: standard clinical guidelines, essential medicines list, practical workshops, purposeful training based on problem-solving, training of all parties including pharmacists and patients, improved regulatory mechanisms, availability of assured quality medicines, availability of suitable alternatives to painkillers and realistic rational prescription policy.
PMCID: PMC3560541  PMID: 23396638
Inappropriate Prescriptions; Corticosteroids; Qualitative Research
22.  Development and Evaluation of a Questionnaire for Assessment of Determinants of Weight Disorders among Children and Adolescents: The Caspian-IV Study 
Little experience exists on valid and reliable tools for assessment of the determinants of underweight and overweight in children and adolescents living in the Middle-East and North Africa (MENA). This study aimed to develop a valid and wideranging questionnaire for assessment of these parameters in a nationwide sample of Iranian children and adolescents.
This national study was conducted in 31 provinces in Iran. The first phase consisted of focus group discussion with 275 children and adolescents and their parents. After a qualitative content analysis, the initial items were extracted. In the next step, the face validity was assessed by expert panelists using the quantitative method of the Impact Score. To assess the content validity, the content validity rate (CVR) and the content validity index (CVI) were determined. The internal consistency was examined by Cronbach alpha, and its test-retest reliability was determined. The socio-demographic variables, perinatal factors, lifestyle factors, family history, knowledge and attitude were assessed. Dietary intakes were assessed by a validated 168-item semi-quantitative food frequency questionnaire. A validated questionnaire for quality of life was filled in anonymously.
A team of expert researchers conducted the data analysis of 576 interviews by using qualitative content analysis method. The analysis process began by determining the semantic units about the concepts studied. The initial questionnaire was developed in four domains by including Likert scale questions. In the face validity step, all questions of the primary questionnaire obtained a score of more than 1.5. In the phase of CVR assessment, 6 questions obtained a score of less than 0.62, and were omitted. The rest of questions were assessed for CVI, and got a score of more than 0.75. Cronbach's alpha coefficient of the whole questionnaire was 0.97, and the Pearson correlation coefficient of the test-retest phase was 0.94.
The developed questionnaire is a valid and reliable tool for assessment of the determinants of weight disorders in a nationally representative sample of children and adolescents in the MENA.
PMCID: PMC3482997  PMID: 23112896
Children and adolescents; overweight; questionnaire validity; underweight
23.  First growth curves based on the World Health Organization reference in a Nationally-Representative Sample of Pediatric Population in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA): the CASPIAN-III study 
BMC Pediatrics  2012;12:149.
The World Health Organization (WHO) is in the process of establishing a new global database on the growth of school children and adolescents. Limited national data exist from Asian children, notably those living in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA). This study aimed to generate the growth chart of a nationally representative sample of Iranian children aged 10–19 years, and to explore how well these anthropometric data match with international growth references.
In this nationwide study, the anthropometric data were recorded from Iranian students, aged 10–19 years, who were selected by multistage random cluster sampling from urban and rural areas. Prior to the analysis, outliers were excluded from the features height-for-age and body mass index (BMI)-for-age using the NCHS/WHO cut-offs. The Box-Cox power exponential (BCPE) method was used to calculate height-for-age and BMI-for-age Z-scores for our study participants. Then, children with overweight, obesity, thinness, and severe thinness were identified using the BMI-for-age z-scores. Moreover, stunted children were detected using the height-for-age z-scores. The growth curve of the Iranian children was then generated from the z-scores, smoothed by cubic S-plines.
The study population comprised 5430 school students consisting of 2312 (44%) participants aged 10–14 years , and 3118 (58%) with 15–19 years of age. Eight percent of the participants had low BMI (thinness: 6% and severe thinness: 2%), 20% had high BMI (overweight: 14% and obesity: 6%), and 7% were stunted. The prevalence rates of low and high BMI were greater in boys than in girls (P < 0.001). The mean BMI-for-age, and the average height-for-age of Iranian children aged 10–19 years were lower than the WHO 2007 and United states Centers for Disease Control and Prevention 2000 (USCDC2000) references.
The current growth curves generated from a national dataset may be included for establishing WHO global database on children’s growth. Similar to most low-and middle income populations, Iranian children aged 10–19 years are facing a double burden of weight disorders, notably under- and over- nutrition, which should be considered in public health policy-making.
PMCID: PMC3471000  PMID: 22985219
Growth; Iran; Reference curve; Weight disorder
24.  Policy Brief on Promoting Physical Activity Among Adolescents 
Regular physical activity (PA) is an underlying factor since childhood and adolescence for having a healthy and active future for life. The aim of this stud y was to review the evidence on increasing the youth PA to develop the national program at country level. At first, the databases were searched using the sensitive keywords, and systematic reviews of the relevant databases were extracted. The studies were evaluated in terms of relevance and methodological quality for effective interventions that were detected. These cases were also identified in the effective interventions: disadvantages, benefits, costs, methods, and limitations of early studies, which were based on systematic review of the studies. Three interventions were identified as physical education curriculum reform, the creation of extra-curricular activities, as well as approaches to environmental and social support. Evidences showed that the relative impact of these interventions were not high. Thus, a combination of all three options of integrated approach is recommended for reducing the sedentary lifestyle of youths.
PMCID: PMC3445274  PMID: 23024847
Behavioral change; evidence informed; life style; policy
25.  Potentially preventable incidence of diabetes due to risk factor modification 
Increasing diabetes incidence demands investigation of risk factors, prioritization and designing modification interventions. We calculated the potential modifiable incidence of diabetes due to reduction in risk factors.
We used counterfactual analysis model to estimate avoidable burden of incident diabetes related to each risk factor. The potential impact fraction (PIF) index calculated utilizing the data of current prevalence, magnitude of impact and counterfactual status of risk factors. We considered the levels of evidence while giving higher priority to domestic data.
The estimated PIF regarding minimum feasible risk for the impaired fasting glucose (IFG), impaired glucose tolerance (IGT), combined IFG/IGT, low HDL, high triglyceride, high total cholesterol, hypertension, general obesity, central obesity and physical inactivity were 0.13, 0.10, 0.18, 0.01, 0.12, 0.03, 0.13, 0.03, 0.02 and 0.10, respectively.
While the combined risk factors of IFG and IGT should be noticed as the most important potential factor in prevention of diabetes and reducing its incidence burden, among the other risk factors, modification of hypertension, high triglyceride, and physical inactivity could have more impact.
PMCID: PMC3598163  PMID: 23497419
Diabetes mellitus; Potential impact fraction; Prevention

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