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

Tran HH, Weinberg J, Sherman KJ, Saper RB. Preference and expectation for treatment assignment in a randomized controlled trial of once- vs twice-weekly yoga for chronic low back pain. Glob Adv Health Med. 2015 Jan;4(1):34-9. doi: 10.7453/gahmj.2014.066.

Rundell SD, Sherman KJ, Heagerty PJ, Mock C, Jarvik JG. Patient-reported outcomes associated with use of physical therapy services for older adults with a new visit for back pain. Phys Ther. 2015 Feb;95(2):190-201. doi: 10.2522/ptj.20140132. Epub 2014 Oct 2. PubMed

Fishman LM, Groessl EJ, Sherman KJ. Serial case reporting yoga for idiopathic and degenerative scoliosis. Glob Adv Health Med. 2014 Sep;3(5):16-21. doi: 10.7453/gahmj.2013.064.

Ward L, Stebbings S, Sherman KJ, Cherkin D, Baxter GD. Establishing key components of yoga interventions for musculoskeletal conditions: a Delphi survey. BMC Complement Altern Med. 2014 Jun 18;14:196. doi: 10.1186/1472-6882-14-196. PubMed

Cherkin DC, Sherman KJ, Balderson BH, Turner JA, Cook AJ, Stoelb B, Herman PM, Deyo RA, Hawkes RJ. Comparison of complementary and alternative medicine with conventional mind-body therapies for chronic back pain: protocol for the Mind-body Approaches to Pain (MAP) randomized controlled trial. Trials. 2014 Jun 7;15:211. doi: 10.1186/1745-6215-15-211. PubMed

Greenlee H, Kwan ML, Ergas IJ, Strizich G, Roh JM, Wilson AT, Lee M, Sherman KJ, Ambrosone CB, Hershman DL, Neugut AI, Kushi LH. Changes in vitamin and mineral supplement use after breast cancer diagnosis in the pathways study: a prospective cohort study. BMC Cancer. 2014 May 29;14:382. doi: 10.1186/1471-2407-14-382. PubMed

Eaves E, Ritenbaugh C, Hsu C, Sherman K. Changing hopes and expectations of CAM treatments for back pain: a longitudinal qualitative analysis. J Altern Complement Med. 2014;20(5):A141. doi: 10.1089/acm.2014.5377.abstract.

Sherman KJ, Cook A, Wellman R, Kahn J, Cherkin D. Influence of the amount and duration of therapeutic massage for chronic neck pain on 12 and 26 week outcomes of pain and function. J Altern Complement Med. 2014;20(5):A49-50. doi: 10.1089/acm.2014.5129.abstract.

Eaves ER, Ritenbaugh C, Nichter M, Hopkins AL, Sherman KJ. Modes of hoping: understanding hope and expectation in the context of a clinical trial of complementary and alternative medicine for chronic pain. Explore (NY). 2014;10(4):225-32. doi: 10.1016/j.explore.2014.04.004. Epub 2014 Apr 19. PubMed

Cerrada CJ, Weinberg J, Sherman KJ, Saper RB. Inter-method reliability of paper surveys and computer assisted telephone interviews in a randomized controlled trial of yoga for low back pain. BMC Res Notes. 2014 Apr 9;7:227. doi: 10.1186/1756-0500-7-227. 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