Ruth I. Freedman

Ruth FreedmanAssociate Professor
Associate Dean for Academic Affairs
Phone: 617-353-3785





Dr. Freedman joined the School in 1984 as an adjunct assistant professor and became a full-time faculty member in 1990. She was appointed Associate Dean for Academic Affairs in 2003. Dr. Freedman’s research and policy interests include mental retardation and developmental disabilities, particularly in regard to families, health care decision-making, end-of-life care issues, and ethics. Her recent projects have focused on physical health, mental health, and quality of life of adults with intellectual disabilities. She has also conducted research on family and consumer service utilization and satisfaction with supports. Dr. Freedman received her master’s and doctoral degrees from Brandeis University.


BA (history), Brandeis University
MSW Florence Heller School, Brandeis University
PhD Florence Heller School, Brandeis University

Courses Taught

SR 743   Introduction to Social Work Research I
SR 744   Social Work Research II

Scholarly and Practice Interests

Individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities and their families, particularly regarding aging; health and mental health; decision-making; legal and ethical issues; and dual diagnosis

Selected Publications

Ward, R.L., Nichols, A.D., & Freedman, R.I. (2010). Uncovering health care inequalities among adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Health & Social Work, 35, 280-290.

Freedman, R. & Taub, S. (March, 2006). Sampling: A Practical Guide for Quality Management in Home & Community-Based Waiver Programs. Cambridge, MA: Human Services Research Institute and the MEDSTST Group, Inc.

Freedman, R. I. and Chassler, D. (2004). Physical and behavioral health of adults with mental retardation across residential settings. Public Health Reports, 119, 401-408.

Freedman, R. I. (2004). Social work practice with persons with disabilities. In D. Lum (Ed.), Cultural competence, practice stages, and client systems: A case approach. Belmont, CA: Brooks/Cole Wadsworth.

Freedman, R.I., (2001). Ethical challenges in the conduct of research involving persons with mental retardation. Mental Retardation, 39 (2), 130-141.

Freedman, R.I., & Boyer, N.C. (2000). The power to choose: Supports for families caring for individuals with developmental disabilities. Health & Social Work, 25(1), 59-68.

Freedman, R. I. (1998). Use of advance directives: Facilitating health care decisions by adults with mental retardation and their families. Mental Retardation, 36(6), 444-456.

Selected Presentations

Nichols, A.D., Freedman, R.F., & Ward, R.L., “From research to policy implementation: Improving health services for adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities,,” Annual Conference of the American Association on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (AAIDD), Providence, RI, June 9, 2010.

Nichols, A.D., Ward, R.L., Freedman, R.I., & Sarkissian, L.V., “Left out in the cold: Health care experiences of adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities in Massachusetts,” Society of Teachers of Family Medicine, Northeast Region Meeting, Rye, New York , Oct. 29, 2009

Nichols, A., Ward, R. L., & Freedman, R., “Health care quality and access for adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities,” Council on Social Work Education 54rth Annual Program Meeting, Philadelphia, PA, November 2, 2008.

Freedman, R.I., “Health care decision-making by adults with intellectual disabilities: Ethical and social perspectives,” Council on Social Work Education 53rd Annual Program Meeting, San Francisco, CA, October 28, 2007.

Freedman, R.I., “Meeting the mental health needs of adults with intellectual disabilities and mental illness: Ethical challenges and social work perspectives,” 50th Anniversary Conference, Wurzweiler School of Social Work, Yeshiva University, New York City, May 7, 2007.

Freedman, R.I., & Freedman, D.N., “Assessing and enhancing the capacities of individuals with dual diagnoses to make informed health and mental health care decisions,” National Association for the Dually Diagnosed 23rd Annual Conference, San Diego, CA, October 26, 2006.

Freedman, R. I., & Taub, S., “Health, social, and emotional well-being of adults with intellectual and psychiatric disabilities,” Annual Meeting of the American Association on Mental Retardation, Philadelphia, PA, June 3, 2004.

Selected Grant Activity

Consumer and Family Satisfaction Survey (Phase 1 and Phase 2 Evaluations), Massachusetts Department of Mental Retardation, 1999-2000 and 2000-2001, Principal Investigator.

Flexible Family Support Services Study, Massachusetts Developmental Disabilities Council, 1997-1998. Principal Investigator.

Consulting and Professional Activities

Member, Council on Social Work Education (CSWE) Commission on Curriculum and Educational Innovation

Member, Governor’s Commission on Intellectual Disability

Consulting Editor, Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities

Editorial Board Member, Journal of Gerontological Social Work

Reviewer: Families in Society; Medical Care; Social Science and Medicine

Awards and Honors

Fellow, American Association on Mental Retardation, 1999