Karen J. Sherman, PhD, MPH, is an epidemiologist and clinical trialist. Her research interests include:
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.
Utilization; role of complementary and alternative medicine in health care; acupuncture; massage; meditation; tai chi; yoga; fibromyalgia; menopause; back pain; neck pain; anxiety disorders
Chronic back pain; diabetes care; self-management
Alternative therapies for anxiety disorders
Alternative therapies for menopause
Communication; patient expectations; patient education
Cherkin DC, Sherman KJ, Kahn J, Wellman R, Cook AJ, Johnson E, Erro JH, Delaney KM, Deyo RA. A comparison of the effects of 2 types of massage and usual care on chronic low back pain: a randomized, controlled trial. Ann Intern Med. 2011 Jul 5;155(1):1-9. PubMed
Strassel JK, Cherkin DC, Steuten L, Sherman KJ, Vrijhoef HJ. A systematic review of the evidence for the effectiveness of dance therapy. Altern Ther Health Med. 2011 May-Jun;17(3):50-9. PubMed
Langevin HM, Wayne PM, Macpherson H, Schnyer R, Milley RM, Napadow V, Lao L, Park J, Harris RE, Cohen M, Sherman KJ, Haramati A, Hammerschlag R. Paradoxes in acupuncture research: strategies for moving forward. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2011;2011:180805. Epub 2010 Oct 11. PubMed
Vickers AJ, Cronin AM, Maschino AC, Lewith G, Macpherson H, Victor N, Sherman KJ, Witt C, Linde K. Individual patient data meta-analysis of acupuncture for chronic pain: protocol of the Acupuncture Trialists' Collaboration. Trials. 2010 Sep 28;11:90. PubMed
Sherman KJ, Cherkin DC, Ichikawa L, Avins AL, Delaney K, Barlow WE, Khalsa PS, Deyo RA. Treatment expectations and preferences as predictors of outcome of acupuncture for chronic back pain. Spine. 2010 Jul 1;35(15):1471-7. Epub 2010 Jun 8. PubMed
Sherman KJ, Cherkin DC, Cook AJ, Hawkes RJ, Deyo RA, Wellman R, Khalsa PS. Comparison of yoga versus stretching for chronic low back pain: protocol for the Yoga Exercise Self-care (YES) trial. Trials. 2010;11(1):36. PubMed
Sherman KJ, Ludman EJ, Cook AJ, Hawkes RJ, Roy-Byrne PP, Bentley S, Brooks MZ, Cherkin DC. Effectiveness of therapeutic massage for generalized anxiety disorder: a randomized controlled trial. Depress Anxiety. 2010 May;27(5):441-50. Epub 2010 Feb 23. PubMed
Hsu C, Bluespruce J, Sherman K, Cherkin D. Unanticipated benefits of CAM therapies for back pain: an exploration of patient experiences. J Altern Complement Med. 2010;16(2):157-63. PubMed
Saper RB, Sherman KJ, Cullum-Dugan D, Davis RB, Phillips RS, Culpepper L. Yoga for chronic low back pain in a predominantly minority population: a pilot randomized controlled trial. Altern Ther Health Med. 2009;15(6):18-27. PubMed
Sherman KJ, Hawkes RJ, Ichikawa L, Cherkin DC, Deyo RA, Avins AL, Khalsa PS. Comparing recruitment strategies in a study of acupuncture for chronic back pain. BMC Med Res Methodol. 2009;9(1):69. PubMed
Health care is increasingly online—KPWHRI is studying telehealth options for opioid use disorder and chronic pain.
The latest on our research on chronic pain and opioids—and how the results influence health policy and clinical practice.
Drs. DeBar, Bradley, and Sherman lead projects in initiative to tackle opioid crisis.
Risk-reduction initiative for chronic opioid therapy sustains patient-doctor trust, Dr. Karen Sherman finds.
AARP, Feb. 6, 2020