Network governance theory as basic pattern for promoting financial support system of the poor in Iranian health system

Manal Etemadi, Patrick Kenis, Kioomars Ashtarian*, Hasan Abolghasem Gorji, Hannaneh Mohammadi Kangarani

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)


Background The share of out-of-pocket payments in Iranian families has the greatest burden on the poor and lead to an impoverishment caused by catastrophic health expenditures. In order to improve access of the poor to public resources, it is necessary to create a better governance system and effective policy-making. The purpose of this study is to improve network effectiveness of the Iranian health system and to design a financial protection network for the poor, based on the network governance theory. Methods We are using a quantitative method framework in conjunction with a Social network analysis (SNA) strategy. To draw an optimal network, we conducted interviews with experts by focusing on the arrangement and relationship among different institutions. The research sample was purposefully selected. We used UCINET software for data analysis and NetDraw software to draw networks. Results In this article, an optimal network was proposed with the following characteristics: First, the problem of the density of relationships among several central institutions and the isolation of the other institutions have been solved. Second, in our model, the relationships have been distributed in a balanced manner among all institutions in the network. Third, the number of participants has been reduced and consensus on poor people support policies has been achieved in this optimal network. Forth, executive organizations keep their central positions and upper institutions are not at the central position, so that the power is distributed in favor of more balanced governance. However, in order to increase efficiency and to have coherent decision-making, it is necessary to establish a "core" for this optimal network. The "core" has to include the organizations with the most relationship with others. Conclusion The result revealed that the usefulness of network analysis as a tool for proposing the effectiveness of governance. By strengthening the relationship among the main actors, an organized system of network management can be achieved. The network has to include all actors from different levels, from policy-making to implementation. The network also has to clarify the tasks from identifying the poor to covering costs. From an academic perspective, this study showed the adequacy of network analysis as a tool for policy sciences. Governance in our optimal health financial protection model follows the shared-governance pattern due to its high density, low centralization and low distance. The model of network governance can be the source of changes in the health governance system. It is a necessary structural condition to provide access to universal health coverage.
Original languageEnglish
Article number556
JournalBMC Health Services Research
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2021


  • Network governance
  • Financial protection
  • The poor
  • Health
  • Shared-governance
  • CARE


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