Navigating Conflicting Roles of Chief Medical Officers of Health

On September 7, 2022 GSL Senior Investigator Patrick Fafard was interviewed by TVO Today about GSL’s new study “Tensions and opportunities in the roles of senior public health officials in Canada: A qualitative study.” The study examines the tensions associated with having the position of Chief Medical Officer of Health (CMOH) positioned within the senior levels of the public service, It provides details about the strategies these officials use to balance their internal- and external-facing roles.

In his interview, drawing on the just published study and ongoing research being done by GSL, Prof. Fafard discussed how some of the controversies about the country’s “top doctors” are not a coincidence or an accident — it’s because the job necessarily pulls its occupants in multiple, contradictory directions. “We don’t actually agree on what the appropriate role of the chief medical officer of health is,” says Patrick Fafard. “Folks in public health perceive the CMOH as being on their side, on their team, and being the advocate-in-chief for the public-health view … but, as our research shows, the people in the role also know they have to balance that view against all of the government’s other considerations.”

Professor Fafard also explained how the combination of several in one office can lead to a degree of public confusion, and that the individuals in these roles are well aware of the conflicts it causes. He closed by stressing that governments who are looking to restructure the CMOH role need to be clear on what their objectives are, and structure these position of CMOH accordingly.

Read the full interview here.

Read about GSL’s ongoing research on CMOH here and here.



September 6, 2022

New Study: Tensions and Opportunities in the Roles of Senior Public Health Officials in Canada: A Qualitative Study


September 23, 2022

Dr. Susan Rogers Van Katwyk and team of GSL researchers lead fourth report of World Health Organization’s Global Evidence Review on Health and Migration (GEHM)