Causes of Increasing Trend of Divorce in Iranian Community: What Do the Experts Think?

Research Article

J Fam Med. 2016; 3(4): 1064.

Causes of Increasing Trend of Divorce in Iranian Community: What Do the Experts Think?

Safizadeh M1 and Nakhaee N2*

1Research Center for Social Determinants of Health, Institute of Futures Studies in Health, Kerman University of Medical Sciences, Kerman, Iran

2Kerman Neuroscience Research Center, Kerman University of Medical Sciences, Kerman, Iran

*Corresponding author: Nouzar Nakhaee, Professor of Community Medicine, Kerman Neuroscience Research Center, Kerman University of Medical Sciences, Kerman, Iran

Received: May 28, 2016; Accepted: June 23, 2016; Published: June 27, 2016


Background: In recent years, Iran has faced an increasing and troubling trend of divorce in all provinces.

Aim: This qualitative study explains experts’ opinions regarding causes of divorce over the past decade.

Methods: This study was conducted using grounded theory. The data were collected using a combination of focus group discussion and faceto- face interviews with experts. Group discussions were conducted in four sessions, each averaging 1.5 hours and consisting of five to seven participants. Participants included judges, clergymen, lawyers, psychologists, family counselors, sociologists, and psychiatrists. Data coding, or finding concepts in data, was performed in a three-step sequence which included open coding, axial coding, and selective coding.

Results: Causes of divorce were found to fall into one of three categories: socio-cultural, family, and individual factors. Several subthemes included religious commitments, change of attitude towards life, welfare seeking and individualism, interference of families, sexual dissatisfaction, marital infidelity, addiction, and increased competence of women.

Conclusions: Iran’s transition from traditional to modern society has led to significant cultural change, and one of the negative consequences of this awakening is an increase in the country’s rate of divorce.

Keywords: Iran; Marriage; Marital satisfaction


The world has experienced an upsurge in divorce rates in recent years, although the increase tends to be greater and more accelerated in industrialized countries [1]. Divorce is often a consequence of social transformation and modernity [2], especially in countries embracing increased individualism [3], and the phenomenon can lead to a number of physical, mental, and social complications for families, children, and society as a whole [4].

Iran has been no exception to this trend. The divorce rate in Iran has soared in the last two decades, having increased by 45 percent since 2006 to reach a rate of 153 per 1,000 marriages in 2011[5]. A large body of quantitative and qualitative literature is available regarding the etiology of divorce in Western countries [6]; however few studies have focused on divorce in Iran, despite its considerable rise [7]. Providing limited critical analysis of the trend [8], these few studies have recognized major social and cultural changes as the main causes of the increased divorce rate [5].

Although insufficient knowledge is available regarding contributing factors concerning divorce in Iran, existing qualitative studies may provide researchers with sufficient, even important, perspectives [9]. One method of constructing a holistic view of the phenomenon is to interview individuals who possess relevant but diverse expertise in the matter [9].


The present study explores causes of an increased divorce rate in Iran by accessing experts’ input and opinions.


The present study used grounded theory as its methodological framework. Focus group discussion (FGD) and face-to-face interview with experts were employed for qualitative data collection. The four focus groups included family court judges, five of whom were clergymen; lawyers with at least five years of experience in marital cases, in which three out of six were female; and seven people active in counseling and couple therapy centers, with degrees in psychology, social work, and counseling. Participants were selected using purposive sampling based on the judgment of court experts and researchers. Each group discussion lasted an average of 90 minutes.

While in-depth interviews expose an individual’s opinions and ideas, focus group discussions reveal their views in terms of whether they agree or disagree with the ideas of others. After greeting and thanking invitees for attending the discussion, the researcher introduced himself in brief. The researcher then asked the invitees to answer the questions without mentioning their names, after which the objective of the study was explained. Participants were assured that results would be registered anonymously, establishing their comfort in group session participation and open dialogue.

Throughout each session, the interviewer avoided expressing his or her personal ideas in an effort to allow all participants to take part in open discussion and to interact unreservedly with each other. In instances of deviation from the main topic, participants were respectfully asked to return to the initial conversation. Conducted by three psychiatrists and two sociologists, each face-to-face interview lasted an average of 40 minutes, was recorded with the informed consent of the interviewees, and was fully transcribed from audiotape.

Although no software was used to analyze the resulting qualitative data, researchers employed open coding conceptual labeling as well as axial and selective coding for category and theory building. A separate group of researchers encoded interviews to determine dependability. Data collection, implementation, registration, and allocation of time were calculated and executed in such a way as to maximize accuracy and efficiency. To assure transferability of the information, the data obtained through this analysis were confirmed by an expert in the field who had not participated in the study.


Based on a theoretical analysis of the interviews, three themes and 16 subthemes were identified as factors related to an increased divorce rate: Ultimate underlying causes (social and cultural factors), distal predisposing influences (family factors), and proximal immediate predictors (individual factors) (Figure 1).

Citation:Safizadeh M and Nakhaee N. Causes of Increasing Trend of Divorce in Iranian Community: What Do the Experts Think?. J Fam Med. 2016; 3(4): 1064. ISSN : 2380-0658