Skip to content
Annelieke Driesson

Dr Annelieke Driessen

Area of study
Fellowship level
Year awarded
Host university
Department of Health Services Research and Policy
London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine
Annelieke Driessen is a medical anthropologist interested in the relations between subjectivity, materiality and values. She has previously explored these theoretical interests in dementia care, and in care for those at the end of life.
View profile

Learning for improvement from COVID-19 intensive care patient experiences (Project complete)


During the initial months of the pandemic, numbers dominated the news: numbers of deaths from COVID-19, ICU admissions, survivors, excess deaths. Especially in the first weeks of the pandemic, voices of patients were notably absent. The emphasis on patient experiences represents an important alternative to numbers – and a shift towards valuing stories. Stories allow us to understand disease and treatment not as one-time events, or as interruptions in the life of any one individual, but as embedded in the everyday life of patients, families and communities. Importantly, telling stories is a practice in and of itself: stories, patients and those who surround them are not passive but responsive to complex events that happen to them. Telling these stories and analysing them to render them understandable in new ways are powerful tools to make sense of a situation and to inform solutions that could be helpful to others.


This qualitative study will deliver in-depth and high-quality research to support the response to the COVID-19 pandemic in the UK. To this end, I will capture experiences of people who have been critically ill with COVID-19 and have been cared for in an Intensive Care Unit, their family members, and the family members of those who did not survive. In this project I will conduct focus groups on emergent themes to identify areas for health care improvement initiatives in ICU and post-ICU care in a COVID- and a post-COVID world. The project will advance the field of healthcare improvement studies by capturing patient narratives and developing possibilities for their use in co-design to improve care delivery.

Watch and listen to find out more about Annelieke’s fellowship project

Recorded for, watch and hear people sharing their personal stories from being critically ill with COVID-19 and being in an intensive care unit:

Listen to Annelieke featuring on an episode of the Dr Informed podcast: Reflecting on a crisis:

Read the story about Annelieke’s fellowship

In an interview with THIS Institute, Annelieke shares her fellowship story.

Research articles

Driessen, A., et al. (2024) Navigating uncertainties in critical care with Covid-19: A cross country analysis of patient narratives from Brazil and the United Kingdom. SSM – Qualitative Research in Health

Driessen, A., et. al, (2023) Doing isolation – Caring Citizens. A cross-country comparative analysis of patient experiences with isolation practices during the early phase of the Covid-19 pandemic, SSM – Qualitative Research in Health, Volume 4, 2023.

Driessen, A., et al. (2023) Doing isolation–Caring Citizens. A cross-country comparative analysis of patient experiences with isolation practices during the early phase of the Covid-19 pandemicSSM-Qualitative Research in Health.

Driessen, A. (2018) Pleasure and Dementia: On Becoming an Appreciating Subject. The Cambridge Journal of Anthropology.

Sign up to receive the latest news, reports and articles from THIS Institute.