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
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
Schafer LM, Hsu C, Eaves ER, Ritenbaugh C, Turner J, Cherkin DC, Sims C, Sherman KJ. Complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) providers' views of chronic low back pain patients' expectations of CAM therapies: a qualitative study. BMC Complement Altern Med. 2012 Nov 27;12(1):234 [Epub ahead of print]. PubMed
Oberg EB, Bradley RD, Hsu C, Sherman KJ, Catz S, Calabrese C, Cherkin D. Patient-reported experiences with first-time naturopathic care for type 2 diabetes. PLoS One. 2012;7(11):e48549. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0048549. Epub 2012 Nov 7. PubMed
Martin BI, Gerkovich MM, Deyo RA, Sherman KJ, Cherkin DC, Lind BK, Goertz CM, Lafferty WE. The association of complementary and alternative medicine use and health care expenditures for back and neck problems. Med Care. 2012 Dec;50(12):1029-36. 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. 2012 Oct 4 [Epub ahead of print]. PubMed
Sherman KJ, Cook AJ, Kahn JR, Hawkes RJ, Wellman RD, Cherkin DC. Dosing study of massage for chronic neck pain: protocol for the dose response evaluation and analysis of massage [DREAM] trial. BMC Complement Altern Med. 2012; 12: 158. PubMed
To view more publications, please see Dr. Sherman's CV.