Karen J. Sherman, PhD, MPH

“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

Dublin S, Walker RL, Shortreed SM, Ludman EJ, Sherman KJ, Hansen RN, Thakral M, Saunders K, Parchman ML, Von Korff M. Impact of initiatives to reduce prescription opioid risks on medically attended injuries in people using chronic opioid therapy. Pharmacoepidemiol Drug Saf. 2018 Oct 30. doi: 10.1002/pds.4678. [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

Von Korff M, Saunders K, Dublin S, Walker RL, Thakral M, Sherman KJ, Ludman EJ, Hansen RN, Parchman M, Shortreed SM. Impact of chronic opioid therapy risk reduction initiatives on opioid overdose. J Pain. 2018 Sep 3. pii: S1526-5900(18)30494-2. doi: 10.1016/j.jpain.2018.08.003. [Epub ahead of print]. PubMed

Sherman KJ, Walker RL, Saunders K, Shortreed SM, Parchman M, Hansen RN, Thakral M, Ludman EJ, Dublin S, Von Korff M. Doctor-patient trust among chronic pain patients on chronic opioid therapy after opioid risk reduction initiatives: a survey. J Am Board Fam Med. 2018;31(4):578-587. doi: 10.3122/jabfm.2018.04.180021. PubMed

 

Healthy Findings Blog

Patient-doctor trust withstands opioid risk reduction

Risk-reduction initiative for chronic opioid therapy sustains patient-doctor trust, Dr. Karen Sherman finds.

Read it in Healthy Findings.

Back Pain

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.

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

video

Cherkin-Newsrelease-Mindfulness_1col.jpg

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

(JAMA Network, 2:26)

 

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.