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Dian Baker: Caring for communities

"I saw how diversity strengthened and enriched our area. Simultaneously, I saw challenges such as discrimination. I learned that we always need to be aware of the experiences of everyone in
the community."


Dian Baker

Sacramento is one of most ethnically diverse cities in the country, named by Time magazine as America’s Most Diverse City in 2002. Dian Baker, who moved to Sacramento as a child in the 1950s when the population was predominantly white, was fascinated by the cultural shifts and the health challenges faced by new communities as they settled in inland Northern California and the Central Valley.

"I saw how diversity strengthened and enriched our area. Simultaneously, I saw challenges such as discrimination," says Baker. "I learned that we always need to be aware of the experiences of everyone in the community."

"The Betty Irene Moore School of Nursing is a creative place. This school ensures nursing science, through work with our communities, brings research-based knowledge back to benefit
our communities."

Now a postdoctoral scholar at the Betty Irene Moore School of Nursing at UC Davis, Baker’s 30-year career as a nurse, nursing educator and advocate for highly vulnerable and underserved populations comes together in the form of community-based participatory research. She works closely with the Hmong and Iu-Mien communities to gather data using a survey model she created and then translates the research into health education campaigns. The survey model was the topic of an article, "Translation of Health Surveys using Mixed Methods," published in the Journal of Nursing Scholarship in December 2010.

Dian BakerHer first such study, called "Perception of Barriers to Immunization Among Parents of Hmong Origin in California," was published in the American Journal of Public Health in May 2010. Based on the study results, Baker, a family practice physician to the Hmong community, and a shaman implemented childhood immunization outreach campaigns through a series of public announcements on Hmong radio. They also distributed calendars to a variety of organizations with a popular saying that translates to English as "Parents are the earth, children are the sky."

Baker’s next study, "Understanding Developmental Disabilities in Families of Southeast Asian Origin," was published in December 2010 in an online supplement to the journal Pediatrics. Conducted in partnership with the Center for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities at UC Davis MIND Institute, the Hmong Women’s Heritage Association and the United Iu-Mien Community, Inc., the results of this survey formed the basis of yet another educational campaign informing the community of the services available for children with development disabilities.

"Hmong and Iu-Mien families care very deeply about their children," Baker says. "It’s not that they don’t want to help them. It’s that they don’t know what to do. Access to insurance does not end disparities."

Hmong community calendarBaker is currently researching telehealth implementation and addressing health inequities in collaboration with the UC Davis Medical Center pediatrics team. Her work extends to victims of hate crimes, communities experiencing significant gang violence, and rural communities lacking access to health care.

She continues to serve on multiple community projects in the Sacramento area including the United Iu Mien, the Sacramento City Office of Youth Development, the Gay and Straight Alliance oversight committee at a local school district, and the Sacramento Rescue and Restore Human Trafficking Coalition. She received numerous grants to study Hmong youth and Southeast-Asian communities in the greater Sacramento area and was published in several nursing publications, including The Journal of School Nursing in 2007.

"The Betty Irene Moore School of Nursing is a creative place," Baker says. "This school ensures nursing science, through work with our communities, brings research-based knowledge back to benefit our communities."

 UC Davis Health > Spring 2011 > Health Alumni and Friends > Friends of Betty Irene Moore School of Nursing

Spring 2011

Academic Profile: Dian Baker

Caring for communities

Dian Baker, a Betty Irene Moore School of Nursing postdoctoral fellow, conducts community-based research to discover solutions to health challenges for various populations.

As a result of the community-based research in the Hmong community, the team developed a traditional Hmong calendar with a message to parents of children with developmental disabilities.