Health-promoting behaviors are among the main determinants of health that have been recognized as underlying factors in disease prevention . Modifying lifestyle factors could potentially prevent many cases of heart disease and types 2 diabetes . Thus, health-promoting behaviors and a healthy lifestyle should be considered as major strategies to improve and maintain health . Promoting women's health is necessary during the reproductive years, the period when health issues such as pregnancy-related diseases and breastfeeding emerge. Women's health also influences the health status of other family members, including those of children.
Health-promoting behaviors in women have shown a discrepancy from country to country because of sociocultural determinants. The inconsistent results on health-promoting behavior status observed in different populations can be due to the effects of a range of personal, social, economic, and environmental factors that determine an individual's health condition. Health behaviors are influenced by social norms, culture, mass media, national health policies, advertising practices, and physical and social environments .
Social support affects health-promoting behaviors. The members of a social support network who are sources of positive and negative feelings may have detrimental physiological consequences on health . Social support has been viewed as integral to health promotion because of its assistance in reaching an individual's physical and emotional needs, as well as buffering the effects of stressful events on the quality of life . According to Pender (1996), social support is identified as "a subjective feeling of belonging, being loved, esteemed, valued, and needed for oneself, not for what one can do for others" .
In Iran, the population in 2006 was 70495789, comprising 34629420 females of which about 60 percent were of reproductive age (15-49 years) . Nevertheless, only one quantitative study identified health-promoting behaviors and their relation with perceived religious support in elderly women , and no qualitative or quantitative study has been conducted on this topic among women of reproductive age. With a better understanding of the health behaviors of women of reproductive age, and their association with social support and sociodemographic characteristics, it is possible to promote the health of this social group in different aspects in order to improve their quality of life.
This study is designed to assess the various aspects of the health behaviors of women of reproductive age and to provide basic information for the national and provincial authorities and policy makers toward the appropriate planning and allocation of resources based on priorities that in turn help to promote women's health. Most of the researches about health-promoting behaviors have been conducted with a quantitative approach, and limited qualitative data are available on women's experience of health-promoting behaviors and social support. Moreover, none of the studies have used the mixed methods approach to gain a better understanding of health-promoting behaviors and their relation to social support in women of reproductive age for the purpose of developing strategies for advancing women's health.
The study aims
The aim of this mixed methods study is to determine health promoting behaviors as well as their determinants including perceived social support and sociodemographic characteristics. Furthermore, women's experience of health promoting behaviors will be explored. On the basis of the findings, comprehensive and culturally sensitive strategies for promoting health behaviors of Iranian women will be developed.
The specific objectives are:
To determine the health-promoting behaviors
To determine the perceived social support
To determine the association between the health-promoting behaviors and perceived social support and the sociodemographic characteristics
To explore the women's experience of health-promoting behaviors
To offer health-promoting strategies for Iranian women of reproductive age