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A Soft Systems Methodology Approach to Occupational Cancer Control Problem: a Case Study of the Ministry of Petroleum of Iran

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Abstract

Petroleum industries of Iran offer some of the best job opportunities within Iranian labor market. However, due to the attributes of the chemicals used in these industries, their staffs are exposed to various risk factors of several chronic diseases. Such exposures might lead to cancer incidence after a decade or two. The Ministry of Petroleum (MoP) runs an organization, namely Petroleum Industry Health Organization (PIHO), which is responsible for the health insurance of the personnel working in Petroleum industries. PIHO and Health, Safety & Environment (HSE) units play fundamental roles in providing the employees with health services during their professional life and retirement period. Yet, these organizations still do not have a system to specify occupational cancer control mechanisms at the MoP. The negative influences of cancer on patients suffering from it as well as its heavy costs of treatment have forced MoP to put measures of coping with this chronic disease in the first priority. This paper aims to define the structure and design a framework for MoP’s occupational cancer control problem as the first step for improving the described situation. Given the presence of various stakeholders and actors, and the wide range of complexities of this problematic situation, we have adopted Soft System Methodology (SSM). We have reached an agreement with the problem owners on a rich picture, CATWOE analysis, root definition and a conceptual model for the way this situation could improve within real world circumstances. The results were obtained through various sessions with practitioner from different departments of MoP, while the conflict of interests was common.

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Notes

  1. 1.

    CAS Registry Numbers are unique numerical identifiers assigned by the Chemical Abstracts Service and the most authoritative collection of disclosed chemical substance information, containing more than 72 million substances

  2. 2.

    CRC is affiliated to Tehran University of Medical Sciences (TUMS) and an affiliate of Cancer Institute of Iran.

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Acknowledgements

We would like to express our sincere gratitude for the kind and generous support by Dr. Kazem Zendehdel (MD PhD) and Dr. Mohammadreza Rouhollahi (MD) from Cancer Research Center and Also Dr. Yahya Khosravi from Alborz University of Medical Sciences who provided us with the medical knowledge required for designing the conceptual model of the problem.

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Correspondence to Ramin Sepehrirad.

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Sepehrirad, R., Rajabzadeh, A., Azar, A. et al. A Soft Systems Methodology Approach to Occupational Cancer Control Problem: a Case Study of the Ministry of Petroleum of Iran. Syst Pract Action Res 30, 609–626 (2017). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11213-017-9409-8

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Keywords

  • Occupational exposure
  • Cancer
  • Problem structuring methods (PSMs)
  • Soft system methodology (SSM)
  • Information systems
  • Conceptual model