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.
Healing in primary care; back pain and other musculoskeletal pain conditions; acupuncture; chiropractic care; massage; mindfulness meditation; tai chi; yoga; naturopathic medicine; integrative medicine
Care for common chronic physical symptoms which lack specific diagnoses and/or effective treatments
Effect of the therapeutic relationship and other contextual effects on patient outcomes
Role of complementary alternative medicine in improving the effectiveness and efficiency of health care services
Marcum ZA, Gold LS, James KT, Meier EN, Turner JA, Kallmes DF, Cherkin DC, Deyo RA, Sherman KJ, Luetmer PH, Avins AL, Griffith B, Friedly JL, Suri P, Heagerty PJ, Jarvik JG. Effects of including epidemiologic data in lumbar spine imaging reports on prescribing non-opioid medications for pain. J Gen Intern Med. 2021 Feb 8. doi: 10.1007/s11606-021-06627-6. [Epub ahead of print]. PubMed
Kneeman J, Battalio SL, Korpak A, Cherkin DC, Luo G, Rundell S, Suri P. Predicting persistent disabling low back pain in Veterans Affairs primary care using the STarT Back tool. PM R. 2020 Sep 9. doi: 10.1002/pmrj.12488. [Epub ahead of print]. PubMed
Jarvik JG, Meier EN, James KT, Gold LS, Tan KW, Kessler LG, Suri P, Kallmes DF, Cherkin DC, Deyo RA, Sherman KJ, Halabi SS, Comstock BA, Luetmer PH, Avins AL, Rundell SD, Griffith B, Friedly JL, Lavallee DC, Stephens KA, Turner JA, Bresnahan BW, Heagerty PJ. The effect of including benchmark prevalence data of common imaging findings in spine image reports on health care utilization among adults undergoing spine imaging: a stepped-wedge randomized clinical trial. JAMA Netw Open. 2020 Sep 1;3(9):e2015713. doi:10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2020.15713. PubMed
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
Kaiser Permanente researchers Drs. Daniel Cherkin, Karen Sherman, and Andrew Avins produced much of evidence in ICER report.
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