Catastrophic health expenditure in Iran: A review article

Aidin Aryankhesal, Manal Etemadi, Mohammad Mohseni, Saber Azami-Aghdash, Majid Nakhaei

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

35 Citations (Scopus)


Background: One of the main challenges of healthcare systems is to protect people from consequences of health expenditures. Such expenditures may lead to catastrophic financial loss in families so that many people deny demanding necessary healthcare services, which results in harms to their health status. The aim of this systematic review was to investigate the catastrophic health expenditures trend and its related factors in Iran. Methods: This systematic review and meta-analysis was conducted on studies conducted between 1984 and 2014. Data were collected through searching electronic databases and searching engines of PubMed, Scopus, EconLit, Google Scholar, Science Direct, MagIran, and Scientific Information Database (SID). The random effects were used with 95% confidence interval for the meta-analysis. Results: Out of 561 initially retrieved articles, finally 42 were included in the final analysis. The studies were conducted between 1984 and 2014. The overall proportion of exposure to catastrophic health expenditure in Iran was 7.5% (95% CI, 6.2 – 9.1). In the urban and rural areas, the proportion was 2.3% (95% CI, 1.8 – 2.9) and 3.4% (95% CI, 2.8 – 4.1) respectively. The overall proportion of exposure to the catastrophic health expenditure in hospitals was 35.9% (95% CI, 23.5 – 54.3). Conclusion: The catastrophic expenditures proportion of healthcare is relatively high in Iran and the government is expected to adopt effective measures in this regard, especially for the inpatient care. There are needs for special supporting policies for the financial protection of specific patients, the poor and villagers.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)166-177
Number of pages12
JournalIranian Journal of Public Health
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2 Feb 2018


  • Catastrophic payments
  • Financially vulnerable people
  • Health economics
  • Iran

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