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

Thakral M, Walker RL, Saunders K, Shortreed SM, Dublin S, Parchman M, Hansen RN, Ludman E, Sherman KJ, Von Korff M. Impact of opioid dose reduction initiatives on chronic opioid therapy patients at higher risk for opioid-related adverse outcomes. Pain Med. 2017 Dec 6. doi: 10.1093/pm/pnx293. [Epub ahead of print]. PubMed

Thakral M, Walker RL, Saunders K, Shortreed SM, Dublin S, Parchman M, Hansen RN, Ludman E, Sherman KJ, Von Korff M. Impact of opioid dose reduction and risk mitigation initiatives on chronic opioid therapy patients at higher risk for opioid-related adverse outcomes. Pain Med. 2017 Dec 6. pii: 4689184. doi: 10.1093/pm/pnx293.[Epub ahead of print]. PubMed

Vickers AJ, Vertosick EA, Lewith G, MacPherson H, Foster NE, Sherman KJ, Irnich D, Witt CM, Linde K. Acupuncture for chronic pain: update of an individual patient data meta-analysis. J Pain. 2017 Nov 30. pii: S1526-5900(17)30780-0. doi: 10.1016/j.jpain.2017.11.005. [Epub ahead of print]. PubMed

Thakral M, Walker RL, Saunders K, Shortreed SM, Parchman M, Hansen RN, Ludman E, Sherman KJ, Dublin S, Von Korff M. Comparing pain and depressive symptoms of chronic opioid therapy patients receiving dose reduction and risk mitigation initiatives to usual care. J Pain. 2017 Oct 13. pii: S1526-5900(17)30733-2. doi: 10.1016/j.jpain.2017.09.006. [Epub ahead of print]. PubMed

 

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.

healthy findings blog

A ‘booster dose’ of more massage helps reduce neck pain

Group Health and University of Vermont researchers find a longer treatment period is better for reducing dysfunction.