Daniel C. Cherkin, PhD

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“We do patient-centered research to improve the process and outcomes of health care services for people with back pain.”

Daniel C. Cherkin, PhD

Senior Investigator (Emeritus), Kaiser Permanente Washington Health Research Institute

Biography

Dan Cherkin, PhD’s research is driven by the desire to find new ways to make medical care more healing. With chronic illness on the rise, he aims to show how primary care can evolve to more effectively deal with health problems that don't respond well to conventional treatments.

Dr. Cherkin’s approach represents a transformation of the way we think about health care delivery and centers around the question, "What paths to healing are absent from the typical primary care encounter?" He is dedicated to identifying ways to more effectively engage patients in healing activities through improved interactions with their physicians: ones which identify patients’ underlying needs and lead to treatment options that are most likely to meet these needs. He is especially interested in improving treatment for chronic conditions and is best known for his research on alternative therapies for back pain. He often collaborates with Kaiser Permanente Washington Health Research Institute (KPWHRI) investigator, Karen Sherman, PhD, to study therapies such as yoga, massage, and acupuncture. 

Dr. Cherkin is also committed to finding ways to optimize the  healing environment in primary care. An enhanced approach can only work when primary care providers’ own needs are supported by their work environment. To this end, he led a study aimed at bolstering awareness, communication, and team building among primary care staff as a way to foster mindful, patient-centered care. 

Dr. Cherkin provided nearly a decade of valuable service to KPWHRI as associate director for research from 1999–2008, with two years as acting director. He founded the International Forum for Primary Care Research on Low Back Pain in 1995 and he continues to chair its International Organizing Committee, which supports conferences every 18 months.

Appointed December 2010 by Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, Dr. Cherkin serves on the 2011–2014 National Advisory Council for the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM) within National Institutes of Health. He was appointed to the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI)’s Advisory Panel for Improving Healthcare Systems Advisory Panel in 2013.

Dr. Cherkin has maintained two faculty appointments at the University of Washington since the 1980s and is now affiliate professor in both family medicine and health services.

Research Interests and Experience

  • Complementary & Integrative Health

    Healing in primary care; back pain and other musculoskeletal pain conditions; acupuncture; chiropractic care; massage; mindfulness meditation; tai chi; yoga; naturopathic medicine; integrative medicine

  • Chronic Illness Management

    Care for common chronic physical symptoms which lack specific diagnoses and/or effective treatments

  • Patient/Provider Interaction

    Effect of the therapeutic relationship and other contextual effects on patient outcomes

  • Health Services & Economics

    Role of complementary alternative medicine in improving the effectiveness and efficiency of health care services

Recent publications

Cherkin DC, Deyo RA, Goldberg H. Time to Align Coverage with Evidence for Treatment of Back Pain. J Gen Intern Med. 2019 Jun 26. pii: 10.1007/s11606-019-05099-z. doi: 10.1007/s11606-019-05099-z [Epub ahead of print] PubMed

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

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

Cherkin DC. Innovating to improve care for low back pain in the military: chiropractic care passes muster. JAMA Netw Open. 2018 May 18;1(1):e180106. doi: 10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2018.0106. PubMed

 

Back Pain Research

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Integrative non-drug therapies treat back pain at reasonable cost

Kaiser Permanente researchers Drs. Daniel Cherkin, Karen Sherman, and Andrew Avins produced much of evidence in ICER report.

Read it in News and Events.

Treating back pain

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As back pain worsens around the world, what care should be avoided?

The Lancet Low Back Pain Series revealed what isn’t working in wealthier nations, writes Dr. Dan Cherkin. Low- and middle-income countries may take note.

Read about it in Healthy Findings

healthy findings blog

Woman looks out window reflectively

Can being accepting and mindful help you stop smoking?

Tobacco remains a public health priority. Dr. Jennifer McClure discusses her new findings comparing ’acceptance and commitment therapy’ to standard care.