Karen J. Sherman, PhD, MPH
Research interests and experience
- Alternative approaches to healing: 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 illness management: chronic back pain; diabetes care; self-management
- Mental health: alternative therapies for anxiety disorders
- Women's health: alternative therapies for menopause
- Patient/provider interaction: communication; patient expectations; patient education
How can we harness the mind-body connection to enhance healing? An expert in complementary and alternative medicine, Karen Sherman investigates this question with a practical yet sophisticated approach—using rigorous epidemiological methods to test alternative therapies delivered in a manner consistent with real-world practice.
Much of Dr. Sherman's research focuses on evaluating complementary and alternative treatments for musculoskeletal conditions. In 2005, she published groundbreaking findings showing that yoga is effective treatment for chronic back pain. The largest study of yoga for back pain at that time, it was among the first hatha yoga trials published in a major medical journal. Dr. Sherman partners with Group Health Research Institute (GHRI) investigator Dan Cherkin, PhD, on many of her studies, including a randomized trial of acupuncture for back pain that made news in 2009. Also the largest U.S. study of its kind, it was designed to test both practical and theoretical questions in the treatment’s efficacy.
Dr. Sherman has collaborated with investigators at GHRI and elsewhere across a range of disciplines, including studies of alternative therapies for cancer, mood disorders, and menopause. A special interest is researching the role of non-pharmacologic complementary and alternative medicine in the modern health care system and in finding 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.
Dr. Sherman is a member of the International Society for Complementary Medicine Research and the Society for Acupuncture Research, having served on the latter's board of directors from 1998 to 2007. She serves as a reviewer for dozens of medical journals and sits on the editorial board for International Journal of Yoga Therapy and Focus on Alternative and Complementary Therapies. Dr. Sherman is also an affiliate research associate professor at Bastyr University and an affiliate associate professor in epidemiology at the University of Washington's School of Public Health.
- International Society for Complementary Medicine Research
- Society for Acupuncture Research
- Focus on Alternative and Complementary Therapies
Sherman KJ, Cook AJ, Wellman RD, Hawkes RJ, Kahn JR, Deyo RA, Cherkin DC. Five-week outcomes from a dosing trial of therapeutic massage for chronic neck pain. Ann Fam Med. 2014 Mar-Apr;12(2):112-20. doi: 10.1370/afm.1602. PubMed
Saper RB, Sherman KJ, Delitto A, Herman PM, Stevans J, Paris R, Keosaian JE, Cerrada CJ, Lemaster CM, Faulkner C, Breuer M, Weinberg J. Yoga vs. physical therapy vs. education for chronic low back pain in predominantly minority populations: study protocol for a randomized controlled trial. Trials. 2014 Feb 26;15(1):67. doi: 10.1186/1745-6215-15-67. PubMed
Sherman KJ, Eaves ER, Ritenbaugh C, Hsu C, Cherkin DC, Turner JA. Cognitive interviews guide design of a new CAM patient expectations questionnaire. BMC Complement Altern Med. 2014 Jan 25;14(1):39. doi: 10.1186/1472-6882-14-39. PubMed
Sherman KJ. The benefits of acupuncture: what you think is what you get, or is it? Acupunct Med. 2013 Dec 13. doi: 10.11.1136acupmed-2013-010503. [Epub ahead of print]. PubMed
Reed SD, Guthrie KA, Newton KM, Anderson GL, Booth-Laforce C, Caan B, Carpenter JS, Cohen LS, Dunn AL, Ensrud KE, Freeman EW, Hunt JR, Joffe H, Larson JC, Learman LA, Rothenberg R, Seguin RA, Sherman KJ, Sternfeld BS, LaCroix AZ. Menopausal quality of life: a RCT of yoga, exercise and omega-3 supplements. Am J Obstet Gynecol. 2013 Nov 8. pii: S0002-9378(13)02015-2. doi: 10.1016/j.ajog.2013.11.016. [Epub ahead of print]. PubMed
Newton KM, Reed SD, Guthrie KA, Sherman KJ, Booth-LaForce C, Caan B, Sternfeld B, Carpenter JS, Learman LA, Freeman EW, Cohen LS, Joffe H, Anderson GL, Larson JC, Ensrud KE, LaCroix AZ. Efficacy of yoga for vasomotor symptoms in healthy menopausal women: a randomized controlled trial. Menopause. 2013 Sep 16. [Epub ahead of print]. PubMed
Sternfeld B, LaCroix A, Caan BJ, Dunn AL, Newton KM, Reed SD, Guthrie KA, Booth-Laforce C, Sherman KJ, Cohen L, Freeman MP, Carpenter JS, Hunt JR, Roberts M, Ensrud KE. Design and methods of a multi-site, multi-behavioral treatment trial for menopausal symptoms: The MsFLASH experience. Contemp Clin Trials. 2013 May;35(1):25-34. doi: 10.1016/j.cct.2013.02.009. Epub 2013 Feb 24. PubMed
Sherman KJ, Wellman RD, Cook AJ, Cherkin DC, Ceballos RM. Mediators of yoga and stretching for chronic low back pain. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2013;2013:130818. doi: 10.1155/2013/130818. Epub 2013 Apr 17. PubMed
Vickers AJ, Maschino AC, Lewith G, Macpherson H, Sherman KJ, Witt CM. Responses to the Acupuncture Trialists' Collaboration individual patient data meta-analysis. Acupunct Med. 2013;31(1):98-100. doi: 10.1136/acupmed-2013-010312. PubMed
Lind BK, Gerkovich MM, Cherkin DC, Deyo RA, Sherman KJ, Lafferty WE. Effect of risk adjustment method on comparisons of health care utilization between complementary and alternative medicine users and nonusers. J Altern Complement Med. 2013 Mar;19(3):250-6. doi: 10.1089/acm.2011.0707. Epub 2012 Oct 4. PubMed
To view more publications, please see Dr. Sherman's CV.