Academic journal article Iranian Journal of Public Health

Determining Dimensions of Iranians' Individual Social Health: A Qualitative Approach

Academic journal article Iranian Journal of Public Health

Determining Dimensions of Iranians' Individual Social Health: A Qualitative Approach

Article excerpt


Background: Social health is important to be assessed as a dimension of health. The aim of study was to determine domains and sub-domains of individual social health of Iranians.

Methods: This study was carried out with a qualitative approach, using thematic content analysis. Twenty five experts participated in interviews, using individual semi-structured interviews between November 2010 and June 2011.This data supported with strong search.

Results: Two main areas extracted from these interviews including social support and social function. The social support domain contained seventeen sub-areas, including social support at the time of disease; disability; daily life issues, etc. And the social function as second domain contained twelve sub-areas, including: financial aids to others; emotionally aids to others; participating in social groups, etc.

Conclusion: We developed a conceptual framework for social health in the individual level in Iranian population. It makes preparations for providing a valid and reliable measurement scale for social health in next studies and evidence-based policy-making.

Keywords: Social health, Qualitative, Dimensions, Iindividual, Iran


According to definition of World Health Organization, "Health" is a state of complete physical, mental, and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity (1, 2). The theme of social health may seem less familiar and is less frequently discussed and studied than physical or mental health (3). And emphasis of WHO to this domain, besides physical and mental domain, attracted more attention from sociologists, economists and health system policy makers to itself (3).

According to literature review, we found that, there are many differences in definition of social health. All of the opinions around this domain of health are categorized in three part; 1- Individual social health in addition to his/her physical and mental health; 2- Social health as social determinants of health; 3- Social health as a healthy society (4).

In this study we focused on first part. For this aim, a representative definition might describe social health as ""that dimension of an individual's well-being that concerns how he gets along with other people, how other people react to him, and how he interacts with social institutions and social mores and vice versa " (5).

This study has been conducted to extract domains and sub-domains of Iranians' social health for future evidence-based policy making, specially, implementation of promotive social health interventions.

Materials and Methods

This project is part of a national program of social health indicators assessment of Iranian population which has been held by Mental and Social Health, Addiction Department.

We chose a qualitative approach with content analysis method to extract domains and sub-domains of social health to develop a conceptual framework. In order to developing this framework, we made an expert panel to determine participants of this study. Our steering scientific committee selected our participants purposively from different settings, based on the level of their interest and expertness and their influence in this field. Consequently we made a semi- structured interview with 25 experts.

We designed five open -ended questions for qualitative semi-structured interview. The interviews were developed by three educated interviewer, expert in social science, who all had extensive experience in collecting qualitative data. Although data saturation, occurred after 20 in depth interviews, a further five interviews, were carried out to validate the saturation. All interviews were recorded and transcribed verbatim. Each transcribed interview was initially read thoroughly and character notes were taken to bring out the character of the text, in accordance with qualitative thematic content analysis (6, 7).

Everything related to social health in individual level was extracted to form a coherent text. …

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