Professor Barry Gibson

PhD, MMedSci, BSc (Hons), SFHEA

School of Clinical Dentistry

Professor in Medical Sociology

Person-centred and Population Oral Health Research Group Lead
+44 114 215 9322

Full contact details

Professor Barry Gibson
School of Clinical Dentistry
19 Claremont Crescent
S10 2TA

I am a Professor in Medical Sociology who joined the University 2004 when I set up and then led on the Masters in Dental Public Health in the Department. To date I have supervised 19 PhD students to completion using a range of research approaches and methodologies in various disciplines (dentistry, sociology, nursing and public health). I previously worked at King's College Dental School in London. Have won the IADR Giddon Award for Distinguished Research in Behavioural Sciences three times. My research has been covered in the Guardian and the Sunday Times and I successfully publish across the disciplines with numerous papers in dentistry, public health and sociology.

I have a special interest in the on-going development of medical sociology, having established the British Sociological Association's Yorkshire Medical Sociology Group and now Co-Convene the Social Theory Study group for the British Sociological Association. I have been an Executive Member of the Behavioural, Epidemiological, and Health Services Research Group of the IADR. Am a founding member of the Coalition for Grounded Theory and the Critical Public Health Network.

Research interests

Research interests include sociology and public health, giving patients' voices in their care (children and young adults) and exploring the experience of oral conditions. In public health I have recently published work on the politics of water fluoridation. This work links with my growing interest in the intersections between sociology and public health with a focus on the implementation of upstream policy interventions. I have students examining the social organisation of ill health drawing on a range of social theories including social practice theory, critical discourse analysis, ethnography and grounded theory.

In relation to oral health and dentistry I continue to develop my interest in the sociology of oral health and healthcare by examining the embodied experience of dental care. This involves a sustained analysis of the work of dentists and patients in maintaining oral health using ethnography (digital and observational) and qualitative research methods.

Current PhD Students:

  • Stephen Mulligan, ENVIRODENT Project exploring the environmental impacts of dental restorations, Started 2016.
  • Lijiaozi, Cheng, A study of the concept of sub-optimal health in Chinese medicine. Started 2017.
  • Arisa Srikong, The impacts of dry mouth on oral health-related quality of life in diabetic patients in Songkhla, Thailand, Started 2019.
  • Thitika Kimise, The informal market for “Fashion Braces” in Thailand. Started 2017.
  • Duaa Almegbil, The oral health of refuges in Jordan. Started 2019.
  • Bettina Zenz, The social organisation of sugar sweetened beverage consumption. Started 2019.


  • Gibson BJ & Hartman J (2014) Re-discovering Grounded Theory. Sage Publications Ltd. RIS download Bibtex download

Journal articles

Research group

PhD students

  • Najla Al Dossari, Mothers Agency and children’s oral health in Saudi Arabia Started March 2011 due 2014 Saudi Arabian Government Funded.
  • Joe Vere, “Evidence based medicine: Philosophy and Practice.” Started July 2011 due 2017 (PT).
  • Sarab Masoud, An Evaluation of Approaches to Oral Health Promotion for Children. Started – Libyan Government Funded. Started 2012.
  • Abdullah Alzahrani, Decision making, power and dental Implantology in Saudi Arabia. Saudi Arabian Government Funded.
  • John Sedgwick A grounded theory study of decisions to undertake dialysis. (PT)
  • Rizwana Lala, Power and politics in Cosmetic Dentistry. (PT) Started 2014.
  • Ninu Rose Paul, A grounded theory study of the processes involved in orthognathic surgery. (FT) Started 2014.

I have contributed to over £2,303,391.00+ in grants and consultancy from Research Council Funding, Private Companies, Charities and various Government Departments.

2020-23 Australian Research Council Discovery Award, Social practices of oral health in Australian preschool children. £363,000.00 ($660,000 AU)

2019-23 Grantham Centre Scholarship, Sustainable futures in sugar production and consumption: a food justice approach £144,852.00

2018-19 Glaxosmithkline, Gum health and oral health related Quality of Life £145,000.00

2015-16 Glaxosmithkline, The significance of the mouth in old age. Peter Robinson, Barry Gibson, Angus Wallis (Edinburgh) £117,000.00

2014-18 Shirley Glasstone Hughes Research Grant – REF: 002-2013. Do dental restorative materials containing plastics act as environmental pollutants? £164,605.00

Teaching interests

I am interested in teaching qualitative research methods, grounded theory as well as ethnography. My current teaching development include adjustments to the outreach programme at the School of Clinical Dentistry focusing on 'Being a Dentist'. I am also well known for an active style of lecturing on the sociology of health and illness to public health students.

Teaching activities

Professor Gibson teaches the sociology of health and illness to the undergraduate dental programme as well as to the Masters in Public Health (MPH and Masters in Dental Public Health (MDPH).

Professional activities and memberships

Member of

  • The British Sociological Association (BSA)
  • International Association of Dental Research (IADR)
  • Grounded Theory Coalition Critical Public Health Network


I have worked as a consultant for Oticon Denmark, GlaxoSmithKline, Department of Health, Ireland and can provide support, advice and data analysis on commercial data outputs.