Karen J. Sherman, PhD, MPH, is an epidemiologist and clinical trialist. Her research interests include:
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.
Utilization; role of complementary and alternative medicine in health care; acupuncture; massage; meditation; tai chi; yoga; fibromyalgia; menopause; back pain; neck pain; anxiety disorders
Chronic back pain; diabetes care; self-management
Alternative therapies for anxiety disorders
Alternative therapies for menopause
Communication; patient expectations; patient education
Jones SM, Lange J, Turner J, Cherkin D, Ritenbaugh C, Hsu C, Berthoud H, Sherman K. Development and validation of the EXPECT questionnaire: assessing patient expectations of outcomes of complementary and alternative medicine treatments for chronic pain. J Altern Complement Med. 2016 Nov;22(11):936-946. Epub 2016 Sep 30. PubMed
Rundell SD, Sherman KJ, Heagerty PJ, Mock CN, Dettori NJ, Comstock BA, Avins AL, Nedeljkovic SS, Nerenz DR, Jarvik JG. Predictors of persistent disability and back pain in older adults with a new episode of care for back pain. Pain Med. 2017 Jun 1;18(6):1049-1062. doi: 10.1093/pm/pnw236. PubMed
Cherkin DC, Sherman KJ, Turner JA. Mindfulness-based stress reduction vs cognitive behavioral therapy for chronic low back pain-reply. JAMA. 2016 Aug 9;316(6):663-4. doi: 10.1001/jama.2016.7951. No abstract available. PubMed
Cherkin DC, Sherman KJ, Balderson BH, Cook AJ, Anderson ML, Hawkes RJ, Hansen KE, Turner JA. Effect of mindfulness-based stress reduction vs cognitive behavioral therapy or usual care on back pain and functional limitations in adults with chronic low back pain: a randomized clinical trial. JAMA. 2016 Mar 22-29;315(12):1240-9. doi: 10.1001/jama.2016.2323. PubMed
Keosaian JE, Lemaster CM, Dresner D, Godersky ME, Paris R, Sherman KJ, Saper RB. "We're all in this together": A qualitative study of predominantly low income minority participants in a yoga trial for chronic low back pain. Complement Ther Med. 2016 Feb;24:34-9. doi: 10.1016/j.ctim.2015.11.007. Epub 2015 Dec 2. PubMed
Saper RB, Lemaster CM, Elwy AR, Paris R, Herman PM, Plumb DN, Sherman KJ, Groessl EJ, Lynch S, Wang S, Weinberg J. Yoga versus education for Veterans with chronic low back pain: study protocol for a randomized controlled trial. Trials. 2016 Apr 29;17(1):224. doi: 10.1186/s13063-016-1321-5. PubMed
Cherkin D, Balderson B, Brewer G, Cook A, Estlin KT, Evers SC, Foster NE, Hill JC, Hawkes R, Hsu C, Jensen M, LaPorte AM, Levine MD, Piekara D, Rock P, Sherman K, Sowden G, Wellman R, Yeoman J. Evaluation of a risk-stratification strategy to improve primary care for low back pain: the MATCH cluster randomized trial protocol. BMC Musculoskelet Disord. 2016 Aug 24;17(1):361. doi: 10.1186/s12891-016-1219-0. PubMed
Cook AJ, Wellman RD, Cherkin DC, Kahn JR, Sherman KJ. Randomized clinical trial assessing if additional massage treatments for chronic neck pain improve 12 and 26 week outcomes. Spine J. 2015 Oct 1;15(10):2206-15. doi: 10.1016/j.spinee.2015.06.049. Epub 2015 Jun 19. PubMed
Rundell SD, Sherman KJ, Heagerty PJ, Mock CN, Jarvik JG. The clinical course of pain and function in older adults with a new primary care visit for back pain. J Am Geriatr Soc. 2015 Mar 6. doi: 10.1111/jgs.13241 [Epub ahead of print]. PubMed
Eaves ER, Sherman KJ, Ritenbaugh C, Hsu C, Nichter M, Turner JA, Cherkin DC. A qualitative study of changes in expectations over time among patients with chronic low back pain seeking four CAM therapies. BMC Complement Altern Med. 2015 Feb 5;15(1):12. [Epub ahead of print]. PubMed
Health care is increasingly online—KPWHRI is studying telehealth options for opioid use disorder and chronic pain.
The latest on our research on chronic pain and opioids—and how the results influence health policy and clinical practice.
Drs. DeBar, Bradley, and Sherman lead projects in initiative to tackle opioid crisis.
Risk-reduction initiative for chronic opioid therapy sustains patient-doctor trust, Dr. Karen Sherman finds.
AARP, Feb. 6, 2020