Syddansk Universitet

Professor of User Perspectives at SDU and OUH


The newly appointed Professor, Astrid Janssens, will focus her research on the partnership between patients, relatives, health care practitioners and researchers in collaborative health research activities. The professorship is a collaboration between the Department of Public Health, SDU and Odense University Hospital, OUH.

Astrid Janssens (44) has also been appointed Head of the newly established Center for Forskning med Patienter og Pårørende (the Centre for Research with Patients and Relatives), which is affiliated with Patient og Pårørendeservice (Patient and Relatives Services) at Odense University Hospital (OUH). OUH’s research strategy for 2021-2025 is to actively involve patients and relatives in all parts of the research process. As Head of Research, Astrid runs the research programme to support this work.

Astrid Janssens has a background in psychology and anthropology and completed her PhD in Medicine and Health Sciences at the University of Antwerp in Belgium. She has been a health service researcher for several years with a passion for and longstanding commitment to issues of democratisation, participation and user involvement in health research and more recently in health education.

To improve patients’ and relatives’ well-being and experiences with healthcare, she has built partnerships with patients and relatives to develop and conduct health research focused on patients’ and relatives’ needs. Because of the unique perspective that patients and relatives bring to research projects, this can lead to more relevant research of higher quality and change research in ways that make it more effective. With a growth rate in the topic of ‘co-production’ of about 25% per year over the last 20 years, the field of co-produced health research is growing steadily: it has become mainstream to include perspectives from healthcare users such as patients and their support network.

Since early in her career, Astrid Janssens has taught research methods at various Master's degree programmes and contributed to the development of programme syllabi. Experienced as a master thesis and PhD supervisor and trained in humanities, she has developed a unique way of mentoring which benefit her collaborations and work with patients and relatives. Recently, she successfully combined her teaching and patient involvement activities in a first attempt at co-produced health education. As module lead of ‘Patient and Society’, a first-semester module in the Master’s degree programme in Health Sciences at SDU, she collaborates with five patients to develop and deliver content for the course: patients share their illness stories with students, develop and moderate group work and take part in exam assessments.

Her PhD work at the Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences at the University of Antwerp (2014-2010) firmly established her passion for health research for and with service users. She moved to the UK to join the PenCRU research group at the University of Exeter, a leading centre for patient and public involvement. During her time at Exeter, she gained extensive experience in patient and community involvement, co-production and collaboration and engagement with (young) patients and relatives. Astrid Janssens remains affiliated with the University of Exeter as an honorary Associate Professor.

Astrid Janssens has a track record of successful grant funding, has presented her research at national and international conferences and, in addition to peer-reviewed publications, has a strong portfolio of alternative research dissemination, such as artworks, flyers, infographics and YouTube videos. Her work has also received extensive media coverage and has contributed to improved patient care and changes at policy level. In the UK, this has led to a national overview, in collaboration with ADHD patients and families, of where and how treatment works as ADHD patients move from childhood to adulthood.

Her career has brought her from the Catholic University of Leuven in Belgium to Università di Padova (Italy), Paul Valéry University Montpellier 3 (France), the University of Antwerp (Belgium), the University of Exeter (UK), the University of Southern Denmark and Odense University Hospital. She currently lives in Middelfart, where she enjoys her hobbies – sailing, running and cycling.


Astrid Janssens



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