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. Developing methods for acupuncture research: rationale for and design of a pilot study evaluating the efficacy of acupuncture for chronic low back pain. Altern Ther Health Med. 2003;9(5):54-60. PubMed

Cherkin DC, Sherman KJ, Deyo RA, Shekelle PG. A review of the evidence for the effectiveness, safety, and cost of acupuncture, massage therapy, and spinal manipulation for back pain. Ann Intern Med. 2003;138(11):898-906. PubMed

Cherkin D, Sherman K, Eisenberg D. Beyond the backache. Newsweek. 2002;140(23):56. PubMed

Sherman KJ. Challenges of accupuncture research: study design considerations. Clin Acupunct Oriental Med. 2002;3:200-6.

Cherkin DC, Deyo RA, Sherman KJ, Hart LG, Street JH, Hrbek A, Davis RB, Cramer E, Milliman B, Booker J, Mootz R, Barassi J, Kahn JR, Kaptchuk TJ, Eisenberg DM. Characteristics of visits to licensed acupuncturists, chiropractors, massage therapists, and naturopathic physicians. J Am Board Fam Pract. 2002;15(6):463-72. PubMed

Cherkin DC, Deyo RA, Sherman KJ, Hart LG, Street JH, Hrbek A, Cramer E, Milliman B, Booker J, Mootz R, Barassi J, Kahn JR, Kaptchuk TJ, Eisenberg DM. Characteristics of licensed acupuncturists, chiropractors, massage therapists, and naturopathic physicians. J Am Board Fam Pract. 2002;15(5):378-90. PubMed

Sherman KJ, Hogeboom CJ, Cherkin DC, Deyo RA. Description and validation of a noninvasive placebo acupuncture procedure. J Altern Complement Med. 2002;8(1):11-9. PubMed

MacPherson H, Sherman K, Hammerschlag R, Birch S, Lao L, Zaslawski C. The clinical evaluation of traditional East Asian systems of medicine. Clin Acupunct Oriental Med. 2002;3:16-19.

Lao L, Sherman K, Bovey M. The role of acupuncture schools and individual practitioners in acupuncture research. Clin Acupunct Oriental Med. 2002;3:32-8.

Sherman KJ, Lao L, MacPherson H, Lewith G, Hopwood V, Kawakita K. Matching acupuncture clinical study designs to research questions. Clin Acupunct Oriental Med. 2002;3:12-15.

 

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