Ben Balderson, PhD

“I'm dedicated to meeting the health care needs of people who have complex, chronic conditions and to help them develop lifelong skills for managing their health.”

Ben Balderson, PhD

Research Associate, Kaiser Permanente Washington Health Research Institute
Psychologist, Kaiser Permanente Washington


Ben Balderson, PhD, is a clinical psychologist with specialties in adult behavior medicine/health psychology and pediatric/child psychology. He has expertise in behavioral and cognitive-behavioral therapy, motivational interviewing, and treatment adherence for chronic diseases—especially for HIV and chronic pain.

Dr. Balderson is interested in an overarching principle of improving self management for chronic health conditions and how they intersect with psychological health. His research has largely focused on developing and testing interventions to improve self management for chronic pain and HIV. He has a strong interest in marginalized or difficult-to-reach populations, including prisoners and people older than 50 who are living with HIV. He is also interested in telehealth and the use of technology to facilitate care—such as telephone counseling, electronic health records, and secure messaging.

A practicing psychologist at Kaiser Permanente Washington, Dr. Balderson provides care for adult patients—specializing in behavioral medicine and treatment of anxiety disorders. Thus, he has a strong interest in translation work, bringing empirically supported treatments to the frontlines of clinical care. He has extensive experience in provider training—particularly in ways clinicians can interact with patients to increase behavior change.

Dr. Balderson serves as a peer reviewer for several journals in the areas of pain and HIV and is an avid participant in Kaiser Permanente Washington committees and initiatives related to improving behavioral health care. His many professional memberships include the American Psychological Association, the Society of Behavioral Medicine, and the International Association of Providers for AIDS Care.

Research interests and experience

Recent publications

Hsu C, Evers S, Balderson BH, Sherman KJ, Foster NE, Estlin K, Levine M, Cherkin D. Adaptation and implementation of the STarT back risk stratification strategy in a US health care organization: a process evaluation. Pain Med. 2018 Sep 28. pii: 5110194. doi: 10.1093/pm/pny170. [Epub ahead of print]. PubMed

Balderson BH, Pruitt SD, Von Korff M. Strengthening self-management of low back pain in primary care: an evolving paradigm. In: Turk DC, Gatchel RJ, editors. Psychological Approaches to Pain Management: A Practitioner’s Handbook, 3rd Edition. New York: Guilford Press; 2018. p 319-339.

Adams LM, Balderson B, Packett BJ 2nd. Meeting the challenge: hepatitis C virus and HIV care experiences among HIV specialty providers. AIDS Patient Care STDS. 2018;32(8):314-320. doi: 10.1089/apc.2018.0006. PubMed

Cherkin D, Balderson B, Wellman R, Hsu C, Sherman KJ, Evers SC, Hawkes R, Cook A, Levine MD, Piekara D, Rock P, Estlin KT, Brewer G, Jensen M, LaPorte AM, Yeoman J, Sowden G, Hill JC, Foster NE. Effect of Low Back Pain Risk-Stratification Strategy on Patient Outcomes and Care Processes: the MATCH Randomized Trial in Primary Care. LID - 10.1007/s11606-018-4468-9 [doi] J Gen Intern Med. 2018 May 22. pii: 10.1007/s11606-018-4468-9. doi: 10.1007/s11606-018-4468-9 [Epub ahead of print] PubMed

Adams LM, Balderson BH, Brown K, Bush SE, Packett BJ 2nd. Who starts the conversation and who receives preexposure prophylaxis (PrEP)?: a brief online survey of medical providers' (PrEP) practices. Health Educ Behav. 2018 Jan 1:1090198117752789. doi: 10.1177/1090198117752789. [Epub ahead of print]. PubMed

Evers S, Hsu C, Sherman KJ, Balderson B, Hawkes R, Brewer G, La Porte AM, Yeoman J, Cherkin D. Patient perspectives on communication with primary care providers about chronic low back pain.  Perm J. 2017;21. doi: 10.7812/TPP/16-177. PubMed

Herman PM, Anderson ML, Sherman KJ, Balderson BH, Turner JA, Cherkin DC. Cost-effectiveness of mindfulness-based stress reduction vs cognitive behavioral therapy or usual care among adults with chronic low-back pain. Spine (Phila Pa 1976). 2017 Jul 24. doi: 10.1097/BRS.0000000000002344. [Epub ahead of print]. PubMed

Cherkin DC, Anderson ML, Sherman KJ, Balderson BH, Cook AJ, Hansen KE, Turner JA. Two-year follow-up of a randomized clinical trial of mindfulness-based stress reduction vs cognitive behavioral therapy or usual care for chronic low back pain. JAMA. 2017;317(6):642-644. doi: 10.1001/jama.2016.17814. PubMed

Turner JA, Anderson ML, Balderson BH, Cook AJ, Sherman KJ, Cherkin DC. Mindfulness-based stress reduction and cognitive-behavioral therapy for chronic low back pain: similar effects on mindfulness, catastrophizing, self-efficacy, and acceptance in a randomized controlled trial. Pain. 2016 Nov;157(11):2434-2444.doi:10.1097/j.pain.0000000000000635. PubMed

Adams LM, Balderson BH. HIV providers' likelihood to prescribe pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) for HIV prevention differs by patient type: a short report. AIDS Care. 2016 Sep;28(9):1154-8. doi: 10.1080/09540121.2016.1153595. Epub 2016 Feb 26. PubMed


KPWHRI In the Media

Meditation and cognitive behavioral therapy pay off for back pain

Mindfulness-based stress reduction, cognitive-behavioral therapy shown to be cost effective for chronic low-back pain

National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health Bulletin, Aug. 22, 2017

Holiday health

Simple tips to keep your holidays healthy

Benjamin Balderson, PhD, KPWHRI research associate and Kaiser Permanente Washington clinical psychologist, shares research-backed ways to beat the holiday blues. 

Read it in Live Healthy.

News release

Mindfulness meditation eases chronic low back pain

March 22, 2016—JAMA publishes randomized controlled trial by Group Health researchers, comparing mindfulness, cognitive behavioral therapy, and usual care for back pain.
Read it in News and Events.



Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction vs Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Chronic Low Back Pain

(JAMA Network, 2:26)


KPWHRI In the Media

Mindfulness meditation eases chronic low back pain

Mind-based therapies may ease lower back pain

New York Times, March 22, 2016