In the quantitative component, two review authors (M.Sh and Kh. H) independently assessed methodological limitations for each research using a ten quality criteria tool developed by Long et al. [22] based on existing instruments for observational studies (STROBE, NEWCASTLE, and Circum Network’s Assessing Survey Research) [2931]. The ten questions evaluated the reliability and quality of the information by assessing the eligibility criteria, sample size, representativeness, response rate, clarity of the questions/statements, ethical considerations, transparency of data (including numerators, denominators, and missing values), and consistency between the research question and data reported (Additional file 4). Each question had one score; hence each study could be given a score from 0 to 10. The total quality of quantitative research was classified based on the median score. If the score was lower than, the same as, or higher than the median score, the quality of the study was considered to be ‘low’, ‘middle’, or ‘high’, respectively. In the qualitative component, we used a checklist described by Walsh and Downe [32] for evaluating the quality of primary qualitative studies and the qualitative components from mixed-methods studies. Based on this checklist, studies were categorized in four degrees from A (few flaws) to D (significant flaws).We included studies that met our inclusion criteria regardless of study quality. The assessment of methodological limitations of both quantitative and qualitative studies is listed in the Additional file 5.

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