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.

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. DOI: 10.1159/000357223

Viinikangas, A, Lahti, S, Yuan, S, Pietilä, I, Freeman, R & Humphris, GM 2007, 'Evaluating a single dental anxiety question in Finnish adults' Acta Odontologica Scandinavica, vol 65, no. 4, pp. 236-40. DOI: 10.1080/00016350701395932

Freeman, R, Linden, G, James, J & Briggs, J 2007, Oral health. in J Yarnell (ed.), Epidemiology and prevention: a systems-based approach. Oxford University Press, Oxford, pp. 227-235.

Blinkhorn, FA, Brown, N, Freeman, R, Humphris, G, Martin, A & Blinkhorn, A 2012, 'A phase II clinical trial of a dental health education program delivered by aboriginal health workers to prevent early childhood caries' BMC Public Health, vol 12, 681. DOI: 10.1186/1471-2458-12-681

Gorter, RC & Freeman, R 2011, 'Burnout and engagement in relation with job demands and resources among dental staff in Northern Ireland' Community Dentistry and Oral Epidemiology, vol 39, no. 1, pp. 87-95. DOI: 10.1111/j.1600-0528.2010.00568.x

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, .

Freeman, R & Lloyd, G 2016, 'Alternatives to imprisonment in Scotland: policy, strategy and practice' Criminology, Victimology and Security Review, vol 10, no. 3, pp. 60-72. DOI: 10.14664/rcvs/635

Coles, E, Edwards, M, Elliott, GM, Freeman, R, Heffernan, A & Moore, A 2009, Smile4life: The oral health of homeless people across Scotland. University of Dundee, Dental Health Services Research Unit, Dundee.

Versloot, J, Hall-Scullin, E, Veerkamp, JSJ & Freeman, R 2008, 'Dental discomfort questionnaire: its use with children with a learning disability' Special Care in Dentistry: Official Publication of the American Association of Hospital Dentists, the Academy of Dentistry for the Handicapped, and the American Society for Geriatric Dentistry, vol 28, no. 4, pp. 140-4. DOI: 10.1111/j.1754-4505.2008.00032.x

Freeman, R 2006, Checklist for skills in the identification and behavioural management of the dentally anxious adult and child patient. in PA Mossey, GJ Holsgrove, ES Davenport & DR Stirrups (eds), Essential skills for dentists. Oxford University Press, Oxford.

Coles, E, Themessl-Huber, M & Freeman, R 2012, 'Investigating community-based health and health promotion for homeless people: a mixed methods review' Health Education Research, vol 27, no. 4, pp. 624-644. DOI: 10.1093/her/cys065

Yuan, S-Y & Freeman, R 2011, 'Can social support in the guise of an oral health education intervention promote mother-infant bonding in Chinese immigrant mothers and their infants?' Health Education Journal, vol 70, no. 1, pp. 57-66. DOI: 10.1177/0017896910366186

Freeman, R 2015, 'Storytelling, sugar snacking, and toothbrushing rules: a proposed theoretical and developmental perspective on children's health and oral health literacy' International Journal of Paediatric Dentistry, vol 25, no. 5, pp. 339-348. DOI: 10.1111/ipd.12188

Beaton, L, Coles, E, Rodriguez, A & Freeman, R 2016, 'Exploring the benefits of Smile4life training: findings from a pilot study' Community Practitioner, vol 89, no. 10, pp. 40-45, 47.

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, .

Akbar, T, Turner, S, Themessl-Huber, M & Freeman, R 2012, The Evaluation of HMP Shotts’ Oral Health Improvement Project. University of Dundee, Dental Health Services Research Unit, Dundee.

Chambers, S, Humphris, G & Freeman, R 2013, 'The Parental Dental Concerns Scale (PDCS): its development and initial psychometric properties' Community Dentistry and Oral Epidemiology, vol 41, no. 6, pp. 541-550. DOI: 10.1111/cdoe.12046

van Meurs, P, Howard, KE, Versloot, J, Veerkamp, JSJ & Freeman, R 2005, 'Child coping strategies, dental anxiety and dental treatment: the influence of age, gender and childhood caries prevalence' European Journal of Paediatric Dentistry , vol 6, no. 4, pp. 173-178.

Wright, A, Humphris, G, Wanyonyi, KL & Freeman, R 2012, 'Using the verona coding definitions of emotional sequences (VR-CoDES) and health provider responses (VR-CoDES-P) in the dental context' Patient Education and Counseling. DOI: 10.1016/j.pec.2012.05.006

Coles, E, Chan, K, Collins, J, Humphris, GM, Richards, D, Williams, B & Freeman, R 2011, 'Decayed and missing teeth and oral-health-related factors: Predicting depression in homeless people' Journal of Psychosomatic Research, vol 71, no. 2, pp. 108-112. DOI: 10.1016/j.jpsychores.2011.01.004

Coles, E & Freeman, R 2016, 'Exploring the oral health experiences of homeless people: a deconstruction-reconstruction formulation' Community Dentistry and Oral Epidemiology, vol 44, no. 1, pp. 53-63. DOI: 10.1111/cdoe.12190

Duane, BG, Freeman, R, Richards, D, Crosbie, S, Patel, D, White, S & Humphris, G 2017, 'Using the simplified case mix tool (sCMT) to identify cost in special care dental services to support commissioning' Community Dental Health, vol 34, no. 1, pp. 56-59 . DOI: 10.1922/CDH_4012Duane04


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