Tamara A. Baker

College of Liberal Arts and Sciences - Psychology
Professor, Director of Gerontology
Primary office:
Fraser Hall
Room 454
University of Kansas
1415 Jayhawk Blvd.
Lawrence, KS 66045
Second office:
Dole Human Development Center
Room 3090


Research contends that symptoms associated with many chronic illnesses impact the individual's physical and psychological health, social existence, and emotional well-being. However, factors associated with the experience and management of these health outcomes, particularly among diverse race populations, are poorly understood. This conceptual issue has evolved into a threefold research agenda:

1. Examine intra (within) race group variability in symptom and chronic disease (pain, cancer, arthritis, etc.) self-management among community- and clinic based populations, while identifying psychosocial and physical health indicators influencing the experience and management of these conditions. Applying an a priori within group approach allows me to rigorously examine the unique characteristics specific to that population (older adults, Black men), while providing a mechanism by which to draw more valid conclusions when comparing race groups. This is an important approach considering potential differences that occur between race groups within their historical, cultural, and socialized patterns.

2. Assess factors that contribute to health disparities and inequities in the management of disease, and receipt of and access to healthcare resources and services. This involves understanding the influence social determinants have at the patient, provider, and institutional levels.

3. Design and implement intervention programs addressing barriers to optimal symptom management among diverse race and marginalized populations. I have received federal funding to specifically investigate social, psychological, and cultural factors that influence health outcomes, but specifically understand how these factors influence the design and participation in community (and clinic)-base intervention programs and research.


Doctor of Philosophy, Biobehavioral Health, The Pennsylvania State University

Master of Arts, Community/Clinical Psychology, Norfolk State University

Bachelor of Arts, Psychology, North Carolina Central University

Teaching Interests

  • Social determinants
  • Minority aging
  • Race and ethnicity


My research agenda has been to establish an original, meaningful and coherent program of research in pain management, health outcomes and behaviors, and domains of health disparities and social determinants of health among diverse race and marginalized populations. Specifically, it is my intent to continue a line of research that provides a knowledge base to understand and explain the experience and management of chronic pain among older minority populations, with an interest in further understanding the influence of social determinants of health. This will be accomplished with continued productivity in developing and testing models identifying clinical and psychosocial factors that influence the pain experience, health behaviors, and outcomes, and by developing and implementing intervention programs leading to optimal pain management in clinic- and community-based settings. I believe this research will have a significant impact on health policy and health care, while addressing the needs and potentially reducing, and possibly eliminating health disparities among underrepresented and marginalized populations.

Research Interests

  • Health disparities
  • Social determinants of health
  • Pain
  • Chronic disease self-management
  • Cancer
  • Arthritis
  • Race and ethnicity
  • Aging

Selected Publications

Baker, T. A., Atakere, D. & Minahan, J. (2018). Encyclopedia of Lifespan Human Development (Chronic Illnesses).

Marshall, G. L., Baker, T. A., Song, C. & Miller, D. (in press). Pain and financial hardship among older men: Examining the buffering effect of medicare insurance coverage
. Journal of Men's Health.

Baker, T. A., Atakere, D. K., Minahan, J. A., Kuofie, A. A., & Dirth, T. P. (2018). Issues of Diversity in the Aging Community. In . (Ed.), The Praeger Handbook of Community Mental Health Practice.

Baker, T. A., Clay, O. O., Johnson-Lawrence, V. V., Minahan, J. A., Mingo, C. A., Thorpe, R. J., & Ovalle, F. (2017). Association of multiple chronic conditions and pain among older Black and White adults. BMC Geriatrics. DOI:10.1186/s12877-017-6652-8

Koss, C. S., & Baker, T. A. (2017). A Question of Trust: Does Mistrust or Perceived
Discrimination Account for Race Disparities in Advance Directive Completion?
. Innovations in Aging. DOI:10.1093/geroni/igx017

Atakere, D. A., & Baker, T. A. (2017). Predictors of perceived vulnerability to cancer diagnoses among
adult Black males. Journal of Health Psychology. DOI:10.1177/1359105317695426

Koss, C. S., & Baker, T. A. (2017). When thereΓÇÖs a will: The link between estate planning and disparities in advance care planning by White and African American older adults
. Research on Aging. DOI:10.1177/0164027517697116

Baker, T. A., & Mingo, C. (2016). Encyclopedia of Adulthood and Aging (Arthritis).

Baker, T. A., Roker, R. Collins, H. Johnson-Lawrence, V. Thorpe, R. Mingo, C. & Vasquez, E. (2016). Beyond race and gender: Measuring behavioral and social indicators of pain treatment satisfaction in older Black and White cancer patients. Gerontology and Geriatric Medicine. DOI:10.1177/2333721415625688

Baker, T. A., Krok-Schoen, J. L., & McMillan, S. (2016). Identifying factors of psychological distress on the experience of pain and symptom management among cancer patients. BMC Psychology, 4(52). DOI:10.1186/s40359-016-0160-1

Atakere, D. K., & Baker, T. A. (2016). Immuned by race: Ethnic identity, masculinity, and attachment predictors of cancer screening among Black men. Psychology, 7, 1023-1033. DOI://dx.doi.org/10.4236/psych.2016.77103

Baker, T. A., O'Connor, M. & Krok-Schoen, J. (2016). Pain interference with everyday activities among older Black and White cancer patients: ItΓÇÖs more than just pain severity.
. Gerontology and Geriatric Medicine.

Koss, C. & Tamara, T. A. (2016). Race differences in advance directive completion: The
narrowing gap between White and African American older adults
. Journal of Aging and Health, 1-19. DOI: 10.1177/0898264316635568

Baker, T. A., Krok-Schoen, J. O'Connor, M. L., & Brooks, A. K. (2016). The influence of pain severity and interference on satisfaction with pain management in middle-aged and older adults. Pain Research and Management. DOI:10.1155/2016/9561024

Walker, J. Thorpe, R. Harrison, T. & Baker, T. A. (2016). The Relationship between Pain, Disability, and Sex in African Americans. Pain Management Nursing, 17(5), 294-301. DOI:10.1016/j.pmn.2016.05.007

Booker, S. Q., & Baker, T. A. (2015). Pain, Chronic Disease and the ACA: Implication for
Better Healthcare in the Black Community
. In . (Ed.), Black Culture and Experience: Contemporary Issues.

Krok-Schoen, J. & Baker, T. A. (2015). Gender differences in personality and cancer-related
pain among older cancer patients. Journal of Gender Studies. DOI:10.1080/09589236.2015.1041463

Baker, T. A., & Whitfield, K. (2015). Intrarace group variability in characteristics of self-reported pain and sleep difficulty in older African Americans with arthritis. Journal of Transcultural Nursing, 26, 171-177. DOI:1043659614526455

Lumpkins, C. Vancy, M. & Baker, T. A. (2015). Marketing a Healthy Mind, Body and Soul ΓÇô An Analysis of How African American Men
View the Church as a Social Marketer and Health Promoter of Colorectal Cancer Risk and Prevention
. Health Education & Behavior. DOI:10.1177/1090198115604615

Baker, T. A. (2015). Social and behavioral science editorial. Gerontology and Geriatric Medicine. DOI:10.1177/2333721414567882

Kim, G. Ford, K. & Baker, T. A. (2015). The relation between diabetes self-efficacy and
psychological distress among older adults: Do racial and ethnic differences exist? Journal of Aging and Health, 27(2), 320-333. DOI:10.1177/0898264314549662

Kenzik, K. Pisu, M. Johns, S. & Baker, T. A. (2015). Unresolved pain interference among colorectal cancer survivors: Implications for patient care and outcomes. Pain Medicine, 16(7), 1410-1425. DOI:10.1111/pme.12727

Brown, C. S., Baker, T. A., Mingo, C. A., Harden, J. T., Whitfield, K. Aiken-Morgan, A. T., & Washington, T. (2014). A review of our roots: Blacks in gerontology. The Gerontologist, 54(1), 108-116. DOI:10.1093/geront/gnt103

Dobbs, D. & Baker, T. A. (2014). Certified Nursing AssistantsΓÇÖ perspectives of nursing home residentsΓÇÖ pain and symptom management. Pain Management Nursing, 15(1), 87-96. DOI:10.1016/j.pmn.2012.06.008

Baker, T. A. (2014). Experience and knowledge of pain management in patients receiving outpatient cancer treatment: what do older adults really know about their cancer pain? Pain Medicine, 15(1), 52-60. DOI:10.1111/pme.12244

Krok, J. & Baker, T. A. (2014). Race differences in personality and affect between older white and black patients. Journal of Racial and Ethnic Health Disparities (Epub ahead of print). DOI:10.1007/s40615-014-0035-1

Baker, T. A. (2014). Reconceptualizing successful aging among black women and the relevance of the strong black women archetype. The Gerontologist. DOI:10.1093/geront/gnu105

Baker, T. A., & Whitfield, K. (2014). Sleep behaviors among older community-dwelling African
American women reporting non-malignant chronic pain
. Journal of Women & Aging, 26(2).

Baker, T. A. (2014). The importance of aging studies: Understanding the influence of diversity and
. Age, Culture, Humanities, 1.

Whitfield, K. & Baker, T. A. (2013). Handbook of Minority Aging.

Krok, J. Baker, T. A., & McMillan, S. (2013). Age differences in the presence of pain and psychological distress in younger and older cancer patients. Journal of Hospice and Palliative Nursing, 16(2), 107-113. DOI:10.1097/NJH.0b013e31826bfb63

Baker, T. A. (2013). Satisfaction with pain treatment in older cancer patients: Identifying variants of discrimination, trust, communication, and self-efficacy. Journal of Hospice and Palliative Nursing, 15(8), 455-463. DOI:10.1097/NJH.0b013e3182a12c24

Krok, J. A., Baker, T. A., & McMillan, S. C. (2013). Sexual activity and body image: Examining gender variability and the influence of psychological distress in cancer patients. Journal of Gender Studies, 22(4), 409-422. DOI:10.1080/09589236.2012.708828

Krok, J. & Baker, T. A. (2013). The influence of personality on reported pain and self-
efficacy for pain management in older cancer patients. Journal of Health Psychology , 19(10), 1261-1270. DOI:10.1177/1359105313488976

Grubert, E. Baker, T. A., McGeever, K. & Shaw, B. (2013). The role of pain in understanding racial/ethnic differences in physical activity among older adults. Journal of Aging and Health, 25(3), 405-421. DOI:10.1177/0898264312469404

Baker, T. A., Whitfield, K. E., & Edwards, C. (2012). Heritability of arthritis in African American twins: Findings from the Carolina African American Twins Study of Aging (CAATSA). Journal of the National Medical Association, 104(9 & 10), 436-440.

Baker, T. A., Buchanan, N. T., Small, B. J., Hines, R. D., & Whitfield, K. E. (2011). Identifying the relationship between chronic pain, depression, and life satisfaction in older African Americans. Research on Aging, 33(4), 426-443. DOI:10.1177/0164027511403159

Baker, T. A., Buchanan, N. T., & Spencer, T. R. (2010). Disparities and social inequities: Is the health of African American women still in peril? Ethnicity & Disease, 20(3), 304-309.

Baker, T. A. (2008). Arthritis. In D. Carr (Ed.), Encyclopedia of the life course and human development. Detroit: Gale Research.

McIlvane, J. M., Baker, T. A., Mingo, C. A., & Haley, W. E. (2008). Are behavioral interventions for arthritis effective with minorities? Addressing racial and ethnic diversity in disability and rehabilitation. Arthritis Care & Research, 59(10), 1512-1518. DOI:10.1002/art.24117

Mingo, C. A., McIlvane, J. M., & Baker, T. A. (2008). Explaining the relationship between pain and depressive symptoms in African American and white women with arthritis. Journal of the National Medical Association, 100(9), 996-1003.

Baker, T. A., Buchanan, N. T., & Corson, N. (2008). Factors influencing chronic pain intensity in older Black women: Examining depression, locus of control and physical health. Journal of WomenΓÇÖs Health, 17(9), 869-878. DOI:10.1089/jwh.2007.0452

McIlvane, J. M., Baker, T. A., & Mingo, C. A. (2008). Racial differences in arthritis-related stress, chronic life stress, and depressive symptoms among women with arthritis: A contextual perspective. Journals of Gerontology: Series B, Psychological Sciences and Social Sciences, 63(5), 320-327.

Baker, T. A. (2007). Pain. In K. Markides (Ed.), Encyclopedia of health and aging. California: Sage Publications Inc.

Baker, T. A., & Wang, C. C. (2006). Photovoice: Use of a participatory action research methodology to explore the chronic pain experience in older adults. Qualitative Health Research , 16(10), 1-9.

Baker, T. A., & Whitfield, K. E. (2006). Physical functioning in older Blacks: An exploratory study identifying psychosocial and clinical predictors. Journal of the National Medical Association, 98(7), 1114-1120.

Baker, T. A. (2005). Chronic pain older Black Americans: The influence of health and psychosocial factors. Ethnicity & Disease, 15(2), 179-186.

Baker, T. A. (2005). For the patient. How chronic pain affects African Americans. Ethnicity & Disease, 15(2), 353.

Baker, T. A., & Green, C. R. (2005). Intra-race differences among Black and White Americans presenting for chronic pain management: The influence of age, physical health, and psychosocial factors. Pain Medicine, 6(1), 29-38.

Dominick, K. L., & Baker, T. A. (2004). For the patient. Racial and ethnic differences in osteoarthritis: prevalence, outcomes, and medical care. Ethnicity & Disease, 14(4), 608.

Green, C. R., Baker, T. A., & Ndao-Brumblay, S. K. (2004). Patient attitudes regarding healthcare utilization and referral: A descriptive comparison in African-and Caucasian Americans with chronic pain. Journal of the National Medical Association, 96(1), 31-42.

Green, C. R., Ndao-Brumblay, S. K., Nagrant, A. M., Baker, T. A., & Rothman, E. (2004). Race, age, and gender influences among clusters of African and Caucasian American chronic pain patients. Journal of Pain, 5(3), 171-182.

Dominick, K. L., & Baker, T. A. (2004). Racial and ethnic differences in osteoarthritis: Prevalence, outcomes, and medical care. Ethnicity & Disease, 14(4), 558-566.

Baker, T. A. (2003). Arthritis symptoms as indicators of pain in older African Americans. Ethnicity & Disease, 13(4), 513-520.

Baker, T. A. (2003). For the patient. Exploring factors to aid in pain and arthritis management. Ethnicity & Disease, 13(4), 549.

Green, C. R., Baker, T. A., Washington, T. L., & Smith, E. M. (2003). Race and chronic pain: comparative study of young African and Caucasian Americans presenting for management. Journal of Pain, 4 (4), 176-183.

Green, C. R., Baker, T. A., Smith, E. M., & Sato, Y. (2003). The effect of race in older adults presenting for chronic pain management: A comparative study of Black and White Americans. Journal of Pain, 4 (2), 82-90.

Green, C. R., Anderson, K. O., Baker, T. A., Campbell, L. C., Decker, S. & Fillingim, R. B. (2003). The unequal burden of pain: Confronting racial and ethnic disparities in pain. Pain Medicine, 4(3), 277-294.

Whitfield, K. E., Baker, T. A., & Brandon, D. T. (2002). Ethnicity and psychosocial factors in cardiovascular disease prevention. In K. W. Schaie, H. Leventhal, & S. L. Willis (Eds.), Effective health behavior in older adults. New York: Springer Publishing Co.

Baker, T. A. (2002). Arthritis: Psychosocial Factors. In N. Anderson (Ed.), Encyclopedia of health and behavior. California: Sage Publications Inc.

Baker, T. A., & Whitfield, K. E. (2002). Arthritis, depression, and pain perception in older arthritic African Americans. African American Research Perspectives, 8(1), 60-71.

Whitfield, K. E., Baker-Thomas, T. A., Heyward, K. Gatto, M. & Williams, Y. (1999). Evaluating a measure of everyday problem solving for use in African-Americans. Experimental Aging Research, 25(3), 209-222.

Whitfield, K. E., & Baker-Thomas, T. A. (1999). Individual differences in aging among African-Americans. International Journal of Aging and Human Development, 48(1), 73-79.

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