Professor Ruth E Freeman

Professor of Dental Public Health Research, Hon Consultant in DPH


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


GDC No. 53166

Phone Number:

+44 (0)1382381 717

Email Address:

Ruth Freeman qualified in dentistry in 1979 at The Queen’s University of Belfast. Under the tutelage of Professor Neil Swallow, she completed her PhD in 1983.  She studied at the University of London where she completed her training in Dental Public Health.  She is a Member of the British Psychoanalytic Council and a Fellow of the Faculty of Public Health, Royal College of Physicians (UK).  Ruth worked as a lecturer in Dental Public Health and Dental Practice at University College London with Professor Aubrey Sheiham before returning to Queen’s University of Belfast where she was Professor of Dental Public Health.  She is currently Professor of Dental Public Health Research and Honorary Consultant in Dental Public Health. She is Director of the Oral Health and Health Research Programme and with Professor Jan Clarkson is Co-Director of the Dental Health Services Research Unit at the University of Dundee.

The Oral Health and Health Research Programme forms one of the major research themes within DHSRU. This Programme of research uses the MRC framework for complex interventions as a structure from which the research evidence is systematically reviewed, modelling of change theory conducted and feasibility trials piloted. 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. Researching the evidence-base and using a mixed methods approach ensures that by understanding people’s main concerns will permit tailoring and achieve engagement with health interventions for those from socially excluded groups. It achieves this aim by providing high quality research and being successful in securing CSO funding, Research Council funding and grant income from the Scottish Government Health Department.

Current research within the Oral Health and Health Research Programme includes:

  • Developing an inventory to Assess Parental concerns and Enable child dental Registration (DAPER): Funded by Childsmile Programme: SGHD. [Post-Doc Research Fellow: Dr S Nanjappa]
  • Smile4Life - Developing, implementing and evaluating an oral health preventive programme for homeless populations across Scotland: funded by SGHD. [Research Fellow: E. Coles]
  • Scottish Oral Health Improvement Prison Programme (SOHIPP): Developing, implementing and evaluating an oral health preventive programme for prison populations across Scotland: funded by SGHD. [Senior Research Fellow: TBA: Research Assistant T. Akbar]
  • Developing an intervention to evaluate a context-based, teacher-led dietary programme to promote healthier snacking behaviour in school children: funded by CSO. [CSO Post-Doctoral Fellow and PI: Dr S Chambers]
  • Childhood obesity and childhood dental caries: an investigation into mediating and moderating factors: funded by NES. [Clinical Lecturer and StR in Dental Public Health: S Carson]
  • Cope-a-lot-Scot: Exploring the feasibility of conducting a randomised controlled trial to test the impact of a computer assisted on-line cognitive behaviour therapy intervention for child dental anxiety: funded by CSO. [Research Fellow: TBA]
  • Stories at the Dentist: Research in the Wild 2012: funded by EPSRC [with Professor A Waller: PI: Research Assistant TBA]

Director of the Undergraduate Programme on Dental Public Health, Behavioural Sciences and Communication.

Professor Freeman leads the development and delivery of the Masters in Dental Public Health.

Themessl-Huber, M, Freeman, R, Humphris, G, MacGillivray, S & Terzi, N 2010, 'Empirical evidence of the relationship between parental and child dental fear: a structured review and meta-analysis' International Journal of Paediatric Dentistry, vol 20, no. 2, pp. 83-101. DOI: 10.1111/j.1365-263X.2009.00998.x

Freeman, R, Reducing Prison Population: custody is not the only answer, 2014, Web publication/site, Associazione Comunità Papa Giovanni XXIII, Rimini.

Cinar, AB, Jones, C, Richards, D, Fernandes, F, White, P & Freeman, R 2017, 'PeP-SCOT a health coaching intervention for people in prisons: the development of the intervention protocol' Community Dental Health, vol 34, no. 2, pp. 97-101. DOI: 10.1922/CDH_4019Cinar05

Freeman, R 2014, 'Moderate evidence support a relationship between sugar intake and dental caries' Evidence-Based Dentistry, vol 15, no. 4, pp. 98-99. DOI: 10.1038/sj.ebd.6401055

Chambers, S & Freeman, R 2010, Developing an inventory to Assess Parental concerns and Enable child dental Registration (DAPER): Year 1 Report: A Qualitative Exploration. University of Dundee, Dental Health Services Research Unit, Dundee.

Freeman, R 1994, Psychoanalytic approach to the understanding and treatment of a psychosomatic disorder: the case of burning mouth syndrome. in R Ekins & R Freeman (eds), Centres and Peripheries of Psychoanalysis: an Introduction to Psychoanalytic Studies. pp. 129-142.

Lazenbatt, A & Freeman, R 2006, 'Recognizing and reporting child physical abuse: a survey of primary healthcare professionals' Journal of Advanced Nursing, vol 56, no. 3, pp. 227-236. DOI: 10.1111/j.1365-2648.2006.04030.x

Yuan, S, Freeman, R, Lahti, S, Lloyd-Williams, F & Humphris, G 2008, 'Some psychometric properties of the Chinese version of the Modified Dental Anxiety Scale with cross validation' Health and Quality of Life Outcomes, vol 6, 22, pp. -. DOI: 10.1186/1477-7525-6-22

Humphris, G, Freeman, R, Gibson, B, Simpson, K & Whelton, H 2005, 'Oral health-related quality of life for 8–10 year-old children: an assessment of a new measure' Community Dentistry and Oral Epidemiology, vol 33, no. 5, pp. 326-332. DOI: 10.1111/j.1600-0528.2005.00220.x

Yuan, S, Carson, SJ, Rooksby, M, McKerrow, J, Lush, C & Freeman, R 2015, 'Assessing sedation need and managing referred dentally anxious patients: is there a role for the Index of Sedation Need?' British Dental Journal, vol 219, no. 12, pp. 571-576. DOI: 10.1038/sj.bdj.2015.955

Hally, J, Freeman, R, Yuan, S & Humphris, G 2017, 'The importance of acknowledgement of emotions in routine patient psychological assessment: The example of the dental setting' Patient Education and Counseling. DOI: 10.1016/j.pec.2017.05.005

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, no. 1, pp. 83-92. DOI: 10.1016/j.janxdis.2014.11.006

Coyle, CF, Humphris, GM & Freeman, R 2013, 'Dentists’ training and willingness to treat adolescents with learning disabilities: the mediating role of social and clinical factors' Community Dental Health, vol 30, no. 4, pp. 263-268. DOI: 10.1922/CDH_3267Freeman06

Freeman, R 1994, The concept of the transference: an introduction to its role in the psychoanalytic process. in R Ekins & R Freeman (eds), Centres and Peripheries of Psychoanalysis: An Introduction to Psychoanalytic Studies . Karnac Books, pp. 74-93.

Humphris, GM, Freeman, R, Campbell, J, Tuutti, H & D'Souza, V 2000, 'Further evidence for the reliability and validity of the Modified Dental Anxiety Scale' International Dental Journal, vol 50, no. 6, pp. 367-370. DOI: 10.1111/j.1875-595X.2000.tb00570.x

Freeman, R 2008, 'Reforming NHS dentistry' BMJ, vol 336, no. 7655, pp. 1202-1203. DOI: 10.1136/bmj.39546.440822.80

Lamey, P-J, Freeman, R, Eddie, S-A, Pankhurst, C & Rees, T 2005, 'Vulnerability and presenting symptoms in burning mouth syndrome' Oral Surgery, Oral Medicine, Oral Pathology, Oral Radiology and Endodontology, vol 99, no. 1, pp. 48-54. DOI: 10.1016/j.tripleo.2004.01.021

Freeman, R 2015, 'Commentary on "Characteristics of patients attending for cognitive behavioural therapy at one UK specialist unit for dental phobia and outcomes of treatment" by E. Kani et al., British Dental Journal (2015), Vol. 219 (10), pp.501-506.' British Dental Journal, vol 219, no. 10, pp. 506. DOI: 10.1038/sj.bdj.2015.890

Carson, SJ & Freeman, R 2017, 'Just a Tale of Two Cities? - using data linkage to look at inequalities in the dental caries experience of 5-year old children in Tayside' British Association for the Study of Community Dentistry Spring 2017 Scientific Meeting, Oxford, United Kingdom, 6/04/17 - 7/04/17, .

Black, R, Herron, D, Waller, A, Scott, L, Menzies, R, Freeman, R, Quinn, S, Humphris, GM & Zhou, Y 2014, 'Valuing the user voice in the design of communication technologies' 12th International Conference on Communication in Healthcare , Amsterdam, Netherlands, 28/09/14 - 1/10/14, .

Mullen, J, McGaffin, J, Farvardin, N, Brightman, S, Haire, C & Freeman, R 2012, 'Caries status in 16 year-olds with varying exposure to water fluoridation in Ireland' Community Dental Health, vol 29, no. 4, pp. 293-296. DOI: 10.1922/CDH_2713Mullen04

Humphris, GM & Freeman, R 2012, 'Measuring children's dental anxiety' Evidence-Based Dentistry, vol 13, no. 4, pp. 102-103. DOI: 10.1038/sj.ebd.6400887

Freeman, R, Clarke, HMM & Humphris, GM 2007, 'Conversion tables for the Corah and Modified Dental Anxiety Scales' Community Dental Health, vol 24, no. 1, pp. 49-54.

Freeman, R & Stevens, A 2008, 'Nursing caries and buying time: an emerging theory of prolonged bottle feeding' Community Dentistry and Oral Epidemiology, vol 36, no. 5, pp. 425-433. DOI: 10.1111/j.1600-0528.2008.00425.x

Humphris, GM, Freeman, R & Clarke, HMM 2004, 'Risk perception of oral cancer in smokers attending primary care: a randomised controlled trial' Oral Oncology, vol 40, no. 9, pp. 916-924. DOI: 10.1016/j.oraloncology.2004.04.008


Conference Presentations

Freeman., R., Chambers, S., Nanjappa, S., Fulke, S., and Lindsay, R. (2012) The Chatterbox intervention to enable children dental registration and attendance: Collaboration between dentistry and design.  Faculty of Public Health Conference, 8-9 November, Crieff.

Freeman., R., Nanjappa, S., Chambers, S., Fulke, S., and Lindsay, R. (2012) Chatterbox: Customising services around dental health care.  Childsmile Symposium, 19 September, Glasgow.

Conference Extract

 Herron, D., Menzies, R., Waller, A.,  Black, R., Quinn, S., Freeman, R., Zhou, Y., Humphris, G., Scott, L., Elliott, G. Involving Clinical Staff in the design of a support tool to improve dental communication for patients with intellectual disabilities. 16th Biennial Conference of ISAAC, July 19-24, 2014, Lisbon, Portugal. 

Invited talks: 2006-2012

  1. Freeman R. Fruit juice, diet drinks and alcopops: strategies for erosion prevention. European Academy of Paediatric Dentistry. Amsterdam. The Netherlands. 2006
  2. Freeman R. Profile of a dentist in the oral health care team in countries with emerging economies. DentEd III. Krakow, Poland, 2006.
  3. Freeman R. Dental anxiety and dental phobia: identification and management. Annual Meeting of the Finnish Dental Association. Helsinki. Finland, 2006.
  4. Freeman R. Oral health care team in countries with emerging economies. DentEd III. Dublin, Ireland, 2007
  5. Freeman R. Dentistry and Psychoanalysis: strange bedfellows? University of Oulu, Oulu, Finland, 2008
  6. Freeman R. Improving compliance: understanding and encouraging patient motivation. GSK-sponsored Symposium: International Association for Dental Research Miami, Florida 2009
  7. Freeman R. Development of the millennium oral health goals 2020: a theoretical and historical perspective National Symposium: ‘Millennium Oral Health Goals 2020: Revisiting the Road Map. University of Malaya, Kuala Lumpar 2009
  8. Freeman R. The progress of the millennium global oral health goals in Scotland: how are the marginalized groups affected? National Symposium: ‘Millennium Oral Health Goals 2020: Revisiting the Road Map. University of Malaya, Kuala Lumpar 2009
  9. Freeman R. Differentiating dental phobia from dental anxiety: strategies for dental practice. ‘Health and Society’ External Seminar Series, University of Bristol. Bristol. 2009
  10. Freeman R. Doing Best for Children: An emerging grounded theory of parents’ policing strategies to regulate between-meal snacking. Food, Oral Health and Social Interaction Workshop, Warwick Medical School, University of Warwick. 2010.
  11. Freeman, R. Adhering with Childsmile: effects of maternal identity and social networks. University of Newcastle, Ourimbah NSW, Australia. 2012
  12. Freeman, R. Access to dental healthcare for socially excluded groups. BASCD Spring Presidential Meeting, London. 2012
  13. Freeman R. Managing dental anxiety: effective communication in dental practice. Oral Health and Communication Symposium. European Association for Communication and Health. University of St Andrews, St Andrews, 2012.
  14. Freeman R. From maternal concerns to the Chatterbox intervention: exploring adherence and increasing access to Childsmile Practice. Childsmile Symposium. University of Glasgow, Glasgow, 2012
  15. Freeman R. Differentiating dental anxiety from dental phobia: referral criteria for dentally anxious children and their parents? British Society of Paediatric Dentistry. Glasgow. 2012
  16. Freeman R. Behavioural aspects of health in the 21st century. British Association for the Study of Community Dentistry. Spring Presidential Meeting, Buxton. 2013
  17. Freeman R. The changing paradigm: a patient-centred approach for older people. NHS Education for Scotland: Dental Team Discovery Day Series. Dundee. 2013
  18. Freeman R. Occupational stress and depression. Northern Ireland Medical & Dental Training Agency: Let’s Talk Series. Belfast 2014
  19. Freeman R. Frightened of the Dentist: Dental observations and psychoanalytic explanations. Fife Psychiatric Teachin: Summer 2014. Cupar 2014
  20. Freeman R. Oral Health & Homelessness: an agenda for engagement? Homeless Action Scotland. NASUWT Edinburgh 2014
  21. Freeman R. Phobic services: who needs them? National Association for Dentistry in Health Authorities and Trusts, BDA London. 2014

Published Reports 2006-2012

  1. Chambers S, Turner S, Freeman R. Special Smiles Dental Project. Evaluation Report and Executive Summary. Dundee. DHSRU. 2009
  2. Chambers S, Freeman R. Developing an inventory to Access Parental concerns and Enable child dental Registration (DAPER 1): a qualitative exploration. Dundee. DHSRU. 2010
  3. Chambers S, Freeman R. Developing an inventory to Access Parental concerns and Enable child dental Registration (DAPER 2): A validity and reliability study of the Parental Dental Concerns Scale. Dundee. DHSRU. 2011
  4. Freeman, R., Wanyonyi, L.K., Humphris, G., Wright, A. The preliminary development of a Communication, cues and framing MIXed methods research programme to promote motivation and compliance for fluoride toothpaste use. ComMIX Interim Report. Dundee. DHSRU. 2010
  5. Chan, K.P.S., Bonner, B.C., and Freeman, R.E. NHS Highland: Modelling orthodontic treatment needs. Dundee. DHSRU. 2011
  6. Freeman R, Lush C. Richards D. Effectiveness, efficiency, sustainability, acceptability and cost of dental therapist-hygienists working in remote-rural primary dental care. Dundee. DHSRU. 2012