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 and has now been replicated at Group Health and in the United Kingdom. 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, is the section editor for clinical research at Biomed Central CAM, and sits on the editorial board for Evidence Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, International Journal of Yoga Therapy and Focus on Alternative and Complementary Therapies. Dr. Sherman is also an affiliate professor in epidemiology at the University of Washington's School of Public Health.
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
Ward L, Stebbings S, Sherman KJ, Cherkin D, Baxter GD.Establishing key components of yoga interventions for musculoskeletal conditions: a Delphi survey.
BMC Complement Altern Med. 2014 Jun 18;14:196. doi: 10.1186/1472-6882-14-196. PubMed
Cherkin DC, Sherman KJ, Balderson BH, Turner JA, Cook AJ, Stoelb B, Herman PM, Deyo RA, Hawkes RJ.Comparison of complementary and alternative medicine with conventional mind-body therapies for chronic back pain: protocol for the Mind-body Approaches to Pain (MAP) randomized controlled trial.
Trials. 2014 Jun 7;15(1):211. [Epub ahead of print]. PubMed
Greenlee H, Kwan ML, Ergas IJ, Strizich G, Roh JM, Wilson AT, Lee M, Sherman KJ, Ambrosone CB, Hershman DL, Neugut AI, Kushi LH.Changes in vitamin and mineral supplement use after breast cancer diagnosis in the pathways study: a prospective cohort study.
BMC Cancer. 2014 May 29;14(1):382 [Epub ahead of print]. PubMed
Eaves E, Ritenbaugh C, Hsu C, Sherman K.Changing hopes and expectations of CAM treatments for back pain: a longitudinal qualitative analysis.
J Altern Complement Med. 2014;20(5):A141. doi: 10.1089/acm.2014.5377.abstract.
Yoga vs. stretching: Which is better for low back pain?
HealthDay, Mar 14, 2014