To read this content please select one of the options below:

Afghan refugees’ experience of Iran’s health service delivery

Abbas Heydari (School of Nursing and Midwifery, Mashhad University of Medical Sciences, Mashhad, Iran)
Rana Amiri (School of Nursing and Midwifery, Mashhad University of Medical Sciences, Mashhad, Iran)
Nahid Dehghan Nayeri (School of Nursing and Midwifery, Tehran University of Medical Sciences, Tehran, Iran)
Vedadhir AboAli (University of Tehran, Tehran, Iran)

International Journal of Human Rights in Healthcare

ISSN: 2056-4902

Article publication date: 6 June 2016




The purpose of this paper is to explore experiences of Afghan refugees from health service delivery in Mashhad, Iran.


This is a descriptive study with contextual and qualitative design. Semi-structured interview conducted with 19 Afghan refugees and their caregivers and a focus group session were held with Afghan medical science students. Purposive sampling technique was used to select participants. Data were analysed by qualitative content analysis of Graneheim and Lundman. Lincoln and Guba’s criteria were implemented to ensure trustworthiness.


The results with the core concept of “position of immigrants in the health system” were presented at four themes of “perceived discrimination”, “snowed with loneliness”, “feeling inferior”, and “gratitude”.

Research limitations/implications

This study has some implications for researchers and practitioners. The present study is the first study that was done on the health of Afghan refugees in Iran, therefore it can be a ground for further research. In addition, it has valuable results regarding the Afghan immigrants’ experience of health care system of Iran.

Practical implications

It can be useful for improving the condition of immigrants in Iran and for improving Iran’s health system. In order to improve the health system in Iran, authorities should pay much attention to transcultural caring and needs of minorities. Furthermore, health workers should be trained to appropriately take care of all patients, without prejudice.


Overall the study revealed that there is inequity in access to health services among Afghan refugees in Iran. The findings, although not generalized, offer important insights into health care providers in Iran which should be delivering health service without prejudice. The authors recommended that policies of public medical insurance and assistance programme should be implemented for providing affordable health care services for Afghan refugees.



The authors thank the Vice Chancellor of the Mashhad University of Medical Sciences for funding this paper. The authors also thank all participants for participating in this study.


Heydari, A., Amiri, R., Nayeri, N.D. and AboAli, V. (2016), "Afghan refugees’ experience of Iran’s health service delivery", International Journal of Human Rights in Healthcare, Vol. 9 No. 2, pp. 75-85.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2016, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Related articles