Professor Ruth Freeman

Professor Ruth Freeman

Position: Professor of Dental Public Health Research

Address: Division of Oral Health Sciences, Dental Hospital & School, Park Place, Dundee, DD1 4HR

T: +44 (0) 1382 38 1717

Website:Oral Health and Research


Professor Ruth Freeman qualified in Dentistry in 1979 at The Queen's University of Belfast. She went on to complete her PhD in 1983 and underwent further training at the University of London, where she studied Dental Public Health.

She was appointed Chair of Dental Public Health Research at the Dental Health Services Research Unit in 2006, prior to which she worked at University College, London and at Queen's University, Belfast.

In 2013, along with Professor Jan Clarkson, Professor Freeman was appointed Co-Director of DHSRU.

She is currently principal investigator on four funded programmes of research, has published five books, has written six book chapters and has 139 peer-reviewed journal articles. Professor Freeman brings her expertise in qualitative research, her work with children, the measurement of pain, quality of life, and patients' oral health-related attitudes and behaviours to this study.

Professor Freeman is the current Director of the Undergraduate Programme on Dental Public Health, Behavioural Sciences and Communication and leads the development and delivery of the Masters in Dental Public Health.


As Director of the Oral Health and Health Research Programmer, her research interests include theoretical and practical dimensions of social exclusions and health disparities.

The Oral Health and Health Research Programme forms one of the major research themes within DHSRU. The research programme is underpinned by psychodynamic principles and uses a mixed methods approach. The purpose of this research programme is to reduce health inequality by addressing oral health as an indication and predictor of health and psycho-social functioning.


Beaton, L & Freeman, R 2015, ' Oral health promotion and homelessness: a theory-based approach to understanding processes of implementation and adoption ' University of Dundee. College of Medicine, Dentistry and Nursing Research Symposium 2015, Crieff, United Kingdom, 26/02/15 - 27/02/15 , .

Rooksby, M, Elouafkaoui, P, Humphris, G , Clarkson, J & Freeman, R 2015, ' Internet-assisted delivery of cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) for childhood anxiety: systematic review and meta-analysis ' Journal of Anxiety Disorders , vol 29, pp. 83-92., 10.1016/j.janxdis.2014.11.006

Chambers, SA , Freeman, R , Anderson, AS & MacGillivray, S 2015, ' Reducing the volume, exposure and negative impacts of advertising for foods high in fat, sugar and salt to children: A systematic review of the evidence from statutory and self-regulatory actions and educational measures ' Preventive Medicine ., 10.1016/j.ypmed.2015.02.011

Quinn, S, Herron, D , Menzies, R , Scott, L , Black, R , Zhou, Y , Waller, A , Humphris, G & Freeman, R 2015, ' The Video Interaction Guidance approach applied to teaching communication skills in dentistry ' European Journal of Dental Education ., 10.1111/eje.12146

Carson, SJ & Freeman, R 2015, ' Training and fairer payments would increase caries prevention in practice ' Evidence-Based Dentistry , vol 16, no. 1, pp. 6-7., 10.1038/sj.ebd.6401072

Beaton, L & Freeman, R 2015, ' Oral health promotion and homelessness: a theory-based approach to understanding processes of implementation and adoption ' Health Education Journal ., 10.1177/0017896915571144

Beaton, L , Freeman, R & Humphris, G 2014, ' Why are people afraid of the dentist?: Observations and explanations ' Medical Principles and Practice: International Journal of the Kuwait University Health Science Centre , vol 23, no. 4, pp. 295-301., 10.1159/000357223

Carson, SJ , Freeman, R , Rooksby, M, Lush, C & McKerrow, J 2014, ' A Reliability Study of the Index of Sedation Need in NHS Highland ' Advancing Excellence in Healthcare 2014, Glasgow, United Kingdom, 19/06/14 - 20/06/14 , .

Duane, BG, Humphris, G, Richards, D, Okeefe, EJ, Gordon, K & Freeman, R 2014, ' Weighing up the weighted case mix tool (WCMT): a psychometric investigation using confirmatory factor analysis ' Community Dental Health , vol 31, no. 4, pp. 200-206., 10.1922/CDH_3430Duane07

Honkala, S, Al-Yahya, H, Honkala, E , Freeman, R & Humphris, G 2014, ' Validating a measure of the prevalence of dental anxiety as applied to Kuwaiti adolescents ' Community Dental Health , vol 31, no. 4, pp. 251-256., 10.1922/CDH_3425Honkala06

Freeman, R 2014, ' Summary of: school bullying and traumatic dental injuries in East London adolescents ' British Dental Journal , vol 217, no. 12, pp. 688-9., 10.1038/sj.bdj.2014.1124

Freeman, R 2014, ' Moderate evidence support a relationship between sugar intake and dental caries ' Evidence-Based Dentistry , vol 15, no. 4, pp. 98-9., 10.1038/sj.ebd.6401055

Q & A with Ruth Freeman

I was invited to apply for the Research Chair at the internationally renowned Dental Health Services Research Unit at the University of Dundee.

The attraction of this position was first that it was at that time, located within the MacKenzie Building with close physical links to Public Health, the Health Informatics Centre and working with internationally recognised researchers in the fields of dental public health, dental health services, primary care and public health; secondly it provided me with an opportunity to consolidate my work on socially excluded groups, through collaborative and multidisciplinary working.

There have been several points in my career, which I considered as highlights.

The first was obtaining NHS R&D PhD funding; second, working as a lecturer at University College London and third, being awarded a personal chair in dental public health at the Queen’s University of Belfast.

Being awarded in March 2015, on behalf of my research team, the Ian Stevenson Prize for Excellence in Public Engagement by the University of Dundee has been yet another highlight of my career.

To look to the future we must take cognisance of the past. In the 1980s, during which time I was starting my academic career, such feminist slogans as, ‘a woman needs a man as a fish needs a bicycle’ almost became the mantra for us young women in dental research!

During this time, the work by Judith Hardwick was a major influence on my thoughts about the work place and career structure. Hardwick called for the recognition that the male career pathway was unsuitable for women and new structures and pathways must be found to enable women to achieve their career goals.

My hope is perhaps more generic and is for all women within science, irrespective of subject area, to achieve their career goals. My concerns are that until employers recognise the limitations of their current promotion structures Hardwick’s vision will remain unobtainable.

There remains, therefore, the need for the forging of a female career pathway, in which family and home life are incorporated into career structures to permit women with children to attain their highest career goals. It is imperative that such discussions are put in place to create and consolidate new career pathways and assist women in science to become the professors of tomorrow.

The crux of the role model position is partnership, in which, horizontal communication pathways permit the robust discussion of research ideas, teaching interventions and in which wishes for the future can be openly debated and discussed.

I feel it is essential for young people to be empowered and supported in their careers – to be encouraged to present at national and international conferences, to take the opportunity to give invited lectures, to have their work published in peer-reviewed journals and to apply for research income.

The environment must, thus be a fertile one, to allow people to develop their teaching acumen as well as their research prowess – in doing so I believe that an essential part of role model function is to assist people to feel empowered, to achieve their potential, to further their careers and whether at this University or elsewhere make a strong contribution to science.

The work-home balance is essential to prevent the stresses and strains of working life becoming overwhelming.

This is achieved by ensuring that holidays mean holidays, discussing common interests from politics to pottery with family and close friends and being active as an amateur gardener!

What I enjoy most in the interchange between research and teaching.

As Director of the new Masters in Dental Public Health, it is an absolute joy to be working once more with people from across the world.

Teaching is not only within the confines of the University and so with members of my excellent research team we have developed a tailored health coaching intervention for two national programmes for the Scottish Government – for those experiencing and those working with homelessness and for people in prison and those with convictions. This intervention promotes social justice by increasing employability.

I feel passionate about this research as it addresses the mission of the University in ‘transforming lives’ and provides an impetus to ensure that our work will address the fundamental causes of inequality.

When I started by academic career, there was little in the way of mentoring.

I think that it is essential for all staff, irrespective of position in the hierarchy, to be provided with mentoring and support, especially as their workload and responsibilities increase.