Karen J. Sherman, PhD, MPH

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“My research looks for effective holistic therapies for back pain such as yoga and acupuncture. I want to help people with pain lead more active lives.”

Karen J. Sherman, PhD, MPH

Senior Investigator, Kaiser Permanente Washington Health Research Institute

Biography

Karen J. Sherman, PhD, MPH, is an epidemiologist and clinical trialist. Her research interests include:

  • reducing the impact of chronic pain, especially spine pain;
  • evaluating complementary and integrative health (CIH) therapies;
  • building the evidence base for contextual factors related to care;
  • understanding and taking advantage of the relationship of spirituality and health; and
  • improving geriatric care.

She has led or participated in groundbreaking studies of various non-pharmacological therapies for chronic low back pain, including acupuncture, massage, meditation, and yoga.

Dr. Sherman has collaborated with investigators at Kaiser Permanente Washington Health Research Institute (KPWHRI) and elsewhere across a range of disciplines, including clinical trials of CIH therapies for cancer, mood disorders, and menopause. Her work on building the evidence base for contextual factors related to care tries to find ways to bring greater healing into the primary care encounter. Dr. Sherman hopes her work will encourage more focus on the intricate connections between mind and body—and on helping patients seize the power of this connection to pursue better health and healing at all phases of life, including older age. Her work is rigorous, designed to answer practical questions, and intended to have impacts on the whole person.

Dr. Sherman is a senior scientific investigator at KPWHRI and an affiliate professor of epidemiology at the University of Washington (UW) School of Public Health. Her doctorate is in behavioral biology from Cornell University, and her MPH is in epidemiology from the UW. She has served as a reviewer for dozens of medical journals and granting institutions, and has sat on editorial boards for numerous CIH journals.

Research interests and experience

  • Patient/Provider Interaction

    Communication; patient expectations; patient  education

 

Recent publications

Sherman KJ, Cherkin DC, Kahn J, Erro J, Hrbek A, Deyo RA, Eisenberg DM. A survey of training and practice patterns of massage therapists in two US states. BMC Complement Altern Med. 2005;5(1):13. PubMed

Cherkin DC, Sherman KJ. Acupuncture and knee osteoarthritis. Ann Intern Med. 2005;142(10):872; author reply 872-3. PubMed

Sherman KJ, Cherkin DC, Eisenberg DM, Erro J, Hrbek A, Deyo RA. The practice of acupuncture: who are the providers and what do they do? Ann Fam Med. 2005;3(2):151-8. PubMed

Boon HS, Cherkin DC, Erro J, Sherman KJ, Milliman B, Booker J, Cramer EH, Smith MJ, Deyo RA, Eisenberg DM. Practice patterns of naturopathic physicians: results from a random survey of licensed practitioners in two US States. BMC Complement Altern Med. 2004;4(1):14. PubMed

Sherman KJ, Cherkin DC, Connelly MT, Erro J, Savetsky JB, Davis RB, Eisenberg DM. Complementary and alternative medical therapies for chronic low back pain: what treatments are patients willing to try? BMC Complement Altern Med. 2004;4(1):9. PubMed

Rosenblatt KA, Daling JR, Chen C, Sherman KJ, Schwartz SM. Marijuana use and risk of oral squamous cell carcinoma. Cancer Res. 2004;64(11):4049-54. PubMed

Simon GE, Cherkin DC, Sherman KJ, Eisenberg DM, Deyo RA, Davis RB. Mental health visits to complementary and alternative medicine providers. Gen Hosp Psychiatry. 2004;26:171-7. PubMed

Langevin HM, Badger GJ, Povolny BK, Davis RT, Johnston AC, Sherman KJ, Kahn JR, Kaptchuk TJ. Yin/Yang score: a new method for quantifying diagnostic patterns in traditional Chinese medicine. J Altern Complement Med. 2004;10:389-96. PubMed

Cherkin D, Sherman K. Conceptualization and evaluation of an optimal healing environment for chronic low back pain in primary care. J Altern Complement Med. 2004;10 (Suppl 1):S171-8. PubMed

Ernst E, Sherman K. Is acupuncture a risk factor for hepatitis? Systematic review of epidemiological studies. J Gastroenterol Hepatol. 2003;18(11):1231-6. PubMed

 

Research

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HEAL responds to double crisis: Opioids and COVID-19

Health care is increasingly online—KPWHRI is studying telehealth options for opioid use disorder and chronic pain.

research

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Stopping the opioid epidemic: A KPWHRI priority

The latest on our research on chronic pain and opioids—and how the results influence health policy and clinical practice.

news release

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NIH awards over $15 million in HEAL grants to KPWHRI

Drs. DeBar, Bradley, and Sherman lead projects in initiative to tackle opioid crisis.

opioids

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Patient-doctor trust withstands opioid risk reduction

Risk-reduction initiative for chronic opioid therapy sustains patient-doctor trust, Dr. Karen Sherman finds.

KPWHRI in the Media

How effective is acupuncture for chronic back pain?

Acupuncture for lower back pain: Really?

AARP, Feb. 6, 2020