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, Cook AJ, Wellman RD, Hawkes RJ, Kahn JR, Deyo RA, Cherkin DC. Five-week outcomes from a dosing trial of therapeutic massage for chronic neck pain. Ann Fam Med. 2014 Mar-Apr;12(2):112-20. doi: 10.1370/afm.1602. PubMed

Sherman KJ, Innes KE. Yoga for metabolic risk factors: much ado about nothing or new form of adjunctive care? J Diabetes Complications. 2014 May-Jun;28(3):253-4. doi: 10.1016/j.jdiacomp.2014.03.001. Epub 2014 Mar 12. PubMed

Reed SD, Guthrie KA, Newton KM, Anderson GL, Booth-Laforce C, Caan B, Carpenter JS, Cohen LS, Dunn AL, Ensrud KE, Freeman EW, Hunt JR, Joffe H, Larson JC, Learman LA, Rothenberg R, Seguin RA, Sherman KJ, Sternfeld BS, LaCroix AZ. Menopausal quality of life: a RCT of yoga, exercise and omega-3 supplements. Am J Obstet Gynecol. 2014 Mar;210(3):244.e1-11. doi: 10.1016/j.ajog.2013.11.016. Epub 2013 Nov 8. PubMed

Sherman KJ, Eaves ER, Ritenbaugh C, Hsu C, Cherkin DC, Turner JA. Cognitive interviews guide design of a new CAM patient expectations questionnaire. BMC Complement Altern Med. 2014 Jan 25;14(1):39. doi: 10.1186/1472-6882-14-39. PubMed

Stein KM, Weinberg J, Sherman KJ, Lemaster C, Saper R. Participant characteristics associated with symptomatic improvement from yoga for chronic low back pain. J Yoga Phys Ther. 2014;4:151. doi: 10.4172/2157-7595.1000151.

Saper RB, Sherman KJ, Delitto A, Herman PM, Stevans J, Paris R, Keosaian JE, Cerrada CJ, Lemaster CM, Faulkner C, Breuer M, Weinberg J. Yoga vs. physical therapy vs. education for chronic low back pain in predominantly minority populations: study protocol for a randomized controlled trial. Trials. 2014 Feb 26;15(1):67. doi: 10.1186/1745-6215-15-67. PubMed

MacPherson H, Vertosick E, Lewith G, Linde K, Sherman KJ, Witt CM, Vickers AJ; Acupuncture Trialists' Collaboration. Influence of control group on effect size in trials of acupuncture for chronic pain: a secondary analysis of an individual patient data meta-analysis. PLoS One. 2014 Apr 4;9(4):e93739. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0093739. eCollection. PubMed

Hsu C, Sherman KJ, Eaves ER, Turner JA, Cherkin DC, Cromp D, Schafer L, Ritenbaugh C. New perspectives on patient expectations of treatment outcomes: results from qualitative interviews with patients seeking complementary and alternative medicine treatments for chronic low back pain. BMC Complement Altern Med. 2014 Jul 30;14(1):276. doi: 10.1186/1472-6882-14-276. PubMed

Sherman KJ. The benefits of acupuncture: what you think is what you get, or is it? Acupunct Med. 2014 Feb;32(1):2-3. doi: 10.1136/acupmed-2013-010503. Epub 2013 Dec 13. PubMed

Newton KM, Reed SD, Guthrie KA, Sherman KJ, Booth-LaForce C, Caan B, Sternfeld B, Carpenter JS, Learman LA, Freeman EW, Cohen LS, Joffe H, Anderson GL, Larson JC, Ensrud KE, LaCroix AZ. Efficacy of yoga for vasomotor symptoms: a randomized controlled trial. Menopause. 2014 Apr;21(4):339-46. doi: 10.1097/GME.0b013e31829e4baa. 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