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. Guidelines for developing yoga interventions for randomized trials. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2012;2012:143271. doi: 10.1155/2012/143271. Epub 2012 Oct 2. PubMed

Sherman KJ, Cook AJ, Kahn JR, Hawkes RJ, Wellman RD, Cherkin DC. Dosing study of massage for chronic neck pain: protocol for the dose response evaluation and analysis of massage [DREAM] trial. BMC Complement Altern Med. 2012;12:158. PubMed

Bussing A, Michalsen A, Khalsa SB, Telles S, Sherman K. Effects of yoga on mental and physical health: a short summary of systematic reviews. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2012;2012:165410. Epub Sep 13. PubMed

Avins AL, Cherkin DC, Sherman KJ, Goldberg H, Pressman A. Should we reconsider the routine use of placebo controls in clinical research? Trials. 2012 Apr 27;13(1):44. PubMed

Bradley R, Sherman KJ, Catz S, Calabrese C, Oberg EB, Jordan L, Grothaus L, Cherkin D. Adjunctive naturopathic care for type 2 diabetes: patient-reported and clinical outcomes after one year. BMC Complement Altern Med. 2012 Apr 18;12(1):44. PubMed

Bussing A, Khalsa SB, Michalsen A, Sherman KJ, Telles S. Yoga as a therapeutic intervention. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2012;2012:174291. doi: 10.1155/2012/174291. PubMed

Della Volpe K, Sherman KJ. A conversation with Karen J. Sherman, PhD, MPH. Can yoga and stretching exercises relieve chronic low back pain? Pract Pain Manag. 2012;12(91):20-2.

Bradley R, Sherman KJ, Catz S, Calabrese C, Jordan L, Grothaus L, Cherkin DC. Survey of CAM interest, self-care, and satisfaction with health care for type 2 diabetes at Group Health Cooperative. BMC Complement Altern Med. 2011 Dec 1;11(1):121. PubMed

Sherman KJ, Cherkin DC, Wellman RD, Cook AJ, Hawkes RJ, Delaney K, Deyo RA. A randomized trial comparing yoga, stretching, and a self-care book for chronic low back pain. Arch Intern Med. 2011 2011 Dec 12;171(22):2019-26. Epub 2011 Oct 24. PubMed

Hsu C, Cherkin DC, Hoffmeyer S, Sherman KJ, Phillips WR. Patient and clinician openness to including a broader range of healing options in primary care. Ann Fam Med. 2011 Sep-Oct;9(5):447-53. 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