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

Sternfeld B, LaCroix A, Caan BJ, Dunn AL, Newton KM, Reed SD, Guthrie KA, Booth-Laforce C, Sherman KJ, Cohen L, Freeman MP, Carpenter JS, Hunt JR, Roberts M, Ensrud KE. Design and methods of a multi-site, multi-behavioral treatment trial for menopausal symptoms: The MsFLASH experience. Contemp Clin Trials. 2013 May;35(1):25-34. doi: 10.1016/j.cct.2013.02.009. Epub 2013 Feb 24. PubMed

Sherman KJ, Wellman RD, Cook AJ, Cherkin DC, Ceballos RM. Mediators of yoga and stretching for chronic low back pain. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2013;2013:130818. doi: 10.1155/2013/130818. Epub 2013 Apr 17. PubMed

Vickers AJ, Maschino AC, Lewith G, Macpherson H, Sherman KJ, Witt CM. Responses to the Acupuncture Trialists' Collaboration individual patient data meta-analysis. Acupunct Med. 2013;31(1):98-100. doi: 10.1136/acupmed-2013-010312. PubMed

Lind BK, Gerkovich MM, Cherkin DC, Deyo RA, Sherman KJ, Lafferty WE. Effect of risk adjustment method on comparisons of health care utilization between complementary and alternative medicine users and nonusers. J Altern Complement Med. 2013 Mar;19(3):250-6. doi: 10.1089/acm.2011.0707. Epub 2012 Oct 4. PubMed

Sherman KJ. Complementary therapies for chronic pain: the case for acupuncture. Pain Manag. Jan 2013;3(1):5-8. doi: 10.2217/pmt.12.73.

Saper RB, Boah AR, Keosaian J, Cerrada C, Weinberg J, Sherman KJ. Comparing once- versus twice-weekly yoga classes for chronic low back pain in predominantly low income minorities: a randomized dosing trial. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2013;2013:658030. doi: 10.1155/2013/658030. PubMed

Schafer LM, Hsu C, Eaves ER, Ritenbaugh C, Turner J, Cherkin DC, Sims C, Sherman KJ. Complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) providers' views of chronic low back pain patients' expectations of CAM therapies: a qualitative study. BMC Complement Altern Med. 2012 Nov 27;12(1):234. doi: 10.1186/1472-6882-12-234. PubMed

Oberg EB, Bradley RD, Hsu C, Sherman KJ, Catz S, Calabrese C, Cherkin D. Patient-reported experiences with first-time naturopathic care for type 2 diabetes. PLoS One. 2012;7(11):e48549. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0048549. Epub 2012 Nov 7. PubMed

Martin BI, Gerkovich MM, Deyo RA, Sherman KJ, Cherkin DC, Lind BK, Goertz CM, Lafferty WE. The association of complementary and alternative medicine use and health care expenditures for back and neck problems. Med Care. 2012 Dec;50(12):1029-36. PubMed

Vickers AJ, Cronin AM, Maschino, AC, Lewith G, Macpherson H, Victor N, Sherman KJ, Witt CM, Linde K on behalf of the Acupuncture Trialist Collaboration. Acupuncture for chronic pain: individual patient data meta-analysis. Arch Intern Med. 2012 Oct 22;172(19):1444-53. doi: 10.1001/archinternmed.2012.3654. Review. Epub 2012 Sep 10. 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