Sarah Baker

Professor Sarah R Baker

BSc (Hons) Psychology, PhD, Chartered Health Psychologist, AFBPsS

Professor of Psychology as applied to Dentistry

Research Group Lead: Person-centred and Population Oral Health

Contact Details:

School of Clinical Dentistry
Claremont Crescent
S10 2TA

Telephone: +44 (0) 114 2159312



I am a Professor of Psychology and Chartered Health Psychologist and Associate Fellow of the British Psychological Society. I lead the Person-centred and Population Oral Health Research Group (PAPOR), which adopts a unique interdisciplinary approach to studying oral health that integrates social and behavioural sciences with clinical specialities.


My research interests centre on the application of psychological theories, methods and techniques to address key questions in oral health and the field of dentistry. I am currently involved in a number of national and international collaborative projects in two principle programmes of work:

  • The psychological, social and cultural factors which influence how people cope with chronic oral health conditions and their treatment. Such conditions include cleft lip and palate, head and neck cancer, orthognathic conditions, xerostomia, periodontal disease and edentulousness. This programme of work investigates the psychosocial factors which influence individual’s experiences of their oral health and the impact on well-being and quality of life. Understanding the role of such factors – sense of coherence, self esteem, social support networks, coping strategies, stress and resilience – allows us to explore potential mechanisms by which oral health impacts on individual’s daily lives and, in turn, develop intervention strategies that have the potential to improve health and well-being.
  • The development and evaluation of person-reported outcome measures (PROMs) in dentistry. The inclusion of PROMs in research and clinical practice is relatively recent in dentistry, and marks a shift to a more biopsychosocial, person-centred approach. I have been involved in developing, alongside colleagues at Sheffield, a number of condition-specific oral health quality of life (OHRQoL) for dentine hypersensitivity (DHEQ), malocclusion (MIQ), and dry mouth (DMI). This programme of work also involves a critical examination of the conceptual foundations of OHRQoL concepts, together with the application of innovative methodological and statistical approaches within the OHRQoL field including structural equation modelling, agent based modelling, and microsimulation.

Recent and current projects include:

  • DMG Hamburg – ‘What are barriers and enablers for dentists to non-invasively manage proximal caries lesions?’ This is a yearlong project using qualitative methods to understand the behaviour of dentists in relation to caries management. It is an international collaboration involving colleagues in Germany, New Zealand and America.
  • EPSRC Impact Acceleration Account (IAA) Industrial Collaboration:  JUVORA TM Dental Innovations Research & Innovation Services – this is a three-year project led by Zaid Ali entitled ‘Health Related Quality of Life Improvements in Removable Partial Denture Treatments for the Replacement of Missing Teeth using a novel PEEK material’
  • University of Sheffield Cross-disciplinary PhD Network – ‘The Construction of Human Perfection - Cross-disciplinary issues in the achievement of enhanced functionality and beauty from technology and surgery’. This is a novel and innovative three-year network funding three linked PhD projects across the Schools of Dentistry, Law, Engineering and English.
  • NIHR Research for Patient Benefit – ‘Development of a self-help Cognitive Behavioural Therapy resource for young people with dental anxiety’. This was a hugely successful two year project led by Dr Zoe Marshman in collaboration with colleagues at Kings College London, University of Reading, and the University of Glasgow.

Research Team

Current PhD students

  • Karthik Periyakaruppiah Do coping strategies of patients determine denture success to improve oral health related quality of life? (Joint location self-funded studentship; 2012-present)
  • Ninu Paul Factors which predict better resilience following orthognathic surgery (University of Sheffield Interdisciplinary PhD network studentship; 2013-present)
  • Tom Broomhead Spatial inequalities in oral health (Medical Humanities Sheffield studentship; 2013-present)
  • Zaid Ali Oral Health Related Quality of Life in Removable Partial Denture Treatments for the Replacement of Missing Teeth (ACF Training Fellowship; 2013-present)
  • Andrew Rawlinson Periodontal Treatment and Oral Health Related Quality of Life (Staff candidate; 2016-present)
  • Magdalena Uerlich Dental caries during childhood as a predictor for obesity in adolescence (University of Sheffield Faculty studentship; 2016-present)

Past PhD students:

  • Joe Hulin Decision aids in paediatric dental sedation: helping children choose what is right for them (Society for the Advancement of Anaesthesia in Dentistry; PhD awarded 2015)
  • Eamar Al Gtewi Exploring the use and role of online support groups for head and neck cancer (Libyan Government studentship; PhD awarded 2015)
  • Ekta Gupta The determinants of oral health related quality of life in adults (School of Dentistry studentship; PhD awarded 2014)
  • Marta Krasuska Exploring response shift in relation to dentine sensitivity (Glaxosmithkline studentship; PhD awarded 2014)
  • Sally Craig How children view other children with enamel defects (Staff candidate; MPhil awarded 2013)
  • Yvonne-Oliva Stocker A qualitative exploration of cultural issues associated with surgery to change facial appearance: Private and public views of orthognathics and the acceptability of appearance altering surgery (ESRC Case Award (in partnership with Sheffield Health and Social Research Consortium); PhD awarded 2013)
  • Orawan Nammontri The effect of an intervention to enhance sense of coherence on oral health related quality of life: An exploratory study (Royal Thai Embassy studentship; PhD awarded 2012)
  • Orachad Gururatana The impact of screening for oral disease and provision of simple restorations on oral health related quality of life of children in Thailand (Royal Thai Embassy studentship; PhD awarded 2011)
  • Amdah Mat Child oral health related quality of life in Malaysia (Malaysian Government studentship; PhD awarded 2010)
  • Jenny Porritt Childhood dental trauma: A resiliency model of adjustment (University of Sheffield studentship; PhD awarded 2010)
  • Paul Brocklehurst What effects the decision to refer an oral soft tissue lesion from primary to secondary care? (Self-funded and FCDP RCS England; PhD awarded 2009)
  • Susan Hill Illness perceptions of people with hand problems: A population survey and focus group enquiry (University of Keele Studentship; PhD awarded 2006)
  • I currently have responsibility for the development, teaching and assessment of communication skills within the Bachelor of Dental Surgery (BDS) undergraduate curriculum (Years 1-5).
  • I am module lead for the Masters in Dental Public Health (MDPH) dissertation module, and for the Research Methods in Clinical Dentistry module for the MDPH Distance Learning.
  • I supervise dissertations for the Doctor in Clinical Psychology (DClinPsy) programme, and oral health promotion projects for the Hygiene and Therapy Diploma.

Professional Activities
  • President (2013-2014), Past President (2014-2016), Program Chair (2011-12), Symposium Organiser (2010-2011, 2017-2018) and Executive committee member (2010-present), Behavioural, Epidemiologic and Health Services Research Group (BEHSR), International Association for Dental Research (IADR)
  • Associate Editor and Editorial Board, Community Dentistry and Oral Epidemiology (2010-present)
  • Section Editor and Editorial Board, Behavioural Sciences, Cleft Palate-Craniofacial Journal (2009-2015)
  • Grant reviewer, NIHR, Research for Patient Benefit and Programme Grants; MRC, Life-long health and well-being; ESRC, Small Grant Scheme applications; Cancer Research UK; Health Research Board of Ireland - Collaborative Applied Research Grants in Population Health and Health Services Research
  • External examiner, Barts and The London School of Medicine and Dentistry, Bachelor of Dental Surgery, Part 2 Communication Skills, Human Science and Law and Ethics (2010-2014)
  • Journal referee for Quality of Life Research, British Journal of Health Psychology, Social Science and Medicine, Journal of Dental Research, Community Dentistry and Oral Epidemiology, Cleft Palate Craniofacial Journal, Journal of Psychophysiology, Personality and Individual Differences, Journal of Psychosomatic Research, Community Dental Health, International Journal of Paediatric Dentistry, British Dental Journal, Journal of Orthodontics, European Journal of Oral Sciences

Invited international and national lectures and keynotes (2011-2016)

  • ‘Children and families: Promoting adjustment to oral health conditions’ in ‘From Macro to Micro Perspectives: Creating meaning in dentistry’ Colgate Symposium held at the European Academy of Paediatric Dentistry, Belgrade, June 2016 ‘The psychosocial impact of dentine hypersensitivity’ in ‘Is Dentine Hypersensitivity a Dental Public Health Problem?’ symposium to be held at the Pan European Federation of IADR Conference, Croatia, September 2014
  • ‘Using social science theory in oral and dental research: Why and how?’ Lunch and Learning Event. IADR Conference, Cape Town, June 2014
  • 'Using theory to link clinical interventions to psychosocial outcomes in oral health research' in ‘Clinical Trials and Methodology Development for Patient-Oriented Outcomes’ symposium, IADR Conference, Cape Town, June 2014
  • ‘Theory based interventions in oral health’ symposium at the IADR conference, Brazil, June 2012
  • ‘How can behavioural sciences contribute to improving population oral health?’ European Association of Dental Public Health Conference, Gothenberg, June 2014
  • ‘What psychosocial factors influence children’s oral health?’ Sir John Walsh Research Institute, Faculty of Dentistry, University of Otago, November 2013
  • ‘The development and evaluation of person-reported outcome measures in dentistry’. Workshop Sir John Walsh Research Institute, Faculty of Dentistry, University of Otago, November 2013
  • ‘There is nothing as practical as a good theory’. World Universities Network 3rd symposium, University of Western Australia, Perth, November 2013
  • 'Exploring factors affecting quality of life in children and young people’ symposium at the British Society for Oral and Dental Research, Sheffield, September 2011
  • Psychological adjustment to chronic oral health conditions in children and young people’ seminar as part of the BPS Seminar Series on Psychology and Dentistry: Future Directions, Sheffield, July 2011
  • ‘Contribution of Social and Behavioural Science to improving population oral health’. British Society of Community Dentistry Conference, London, November 2011


Each year the Behavioural, Epidemiologic and Health Services Research Group of the IADR announces the Giddon Award for Distinguished Research in the Behavioural Sciences which recognises a single basic or applied research paper within social or cultural anthropology, education, psychology, psychiatry, sociology or social work as applied to dentistry.

  • 2013 Giddon Award for Distinguished Research in Behavioural Sciences for the paper: Nammontri O, Robinson PG, Baker SR. Enhancing Oral Health via Sense of Coherence: A Cluster randomized Trial. Journal of Dental Research 2013; 92: 26-31
  • 2016 Giddon Award for Distinguished Research in Behavioural Sciences for the paper:
  • Baker SR, Gibson BJ. (2014). Social Oral Epidemi(olog)2y -Where next: one small step or one giant leap? Community Dentistry and Oral Epidemiology 2014; 42: 481-494.

Twitter: @sarahRbakerDPH