Prof. Dr. Orkan Okan


Health Literacy

Academic Career and Research Areas

Prof. Okan's field of research is health literacy. His focus is on interdisciplinary research on health literacy in childhood and adolescence, especially regarding schools and further educational contexts. Prof. Okan also links health literacy research with contemporary societal issues and challenges such as digitalization, media and infodemiology.

Prof. Okan studied educational science with a focus on teacher training at the University of Duisburg-Essen. He received his doctorate in 2020 from Bielefeld University, while his thesis focused on health literacy in childhood and adolescence (summa cum laude). He has been a professor of health literacy at TUM since 2021. Prof. Okan is vice president of the International Health Literacy Association, editor of the International Handbook of Health Literacy, and co-founder and coordinator of the Global Covid-Health Literacy Network.


  • Elected vice president of the International Health Literacy Association (2022)
  • Elected vice president of the Health Promotion Section within the European Public Health Association (2016)
  • Elected deputy chair health literacy at the international Union for Health Promotion and Education (2019)

Okan, O., Messer, M., Levin-Zamir, D., Paakkari, L Sørensen, K. (2022). Health Literacy as a Social Vaccine in the COVID-19 Pandemic. Health Promotion International. daab197.


Paakkari, L., & Okan, O. (2020). COVID-19: health literacy is an underestimated problem. The Lancet Public Health. 5:e249-e250.


Okan, O., Bollweg, T.M., Eva-Maria Berens, Bauer, U., Hurrelmann, K., Schaeffer, D. (2020). Coronavirus-related health literacy in Germany: A cross-sectional study in adults during the COVID-19 infodemic. Int J Environ Res Public Health. 17(15), 5503.


Okan, O., Bauer, U., Pinheiro, P., Levin-Zamir, D., Sørensen, K. (Hrsg.) (2019). International Handbook of Health Literacy. Research, Practice and Policy across the Lifespan. Bristol: Policy Press.


Okan, O., Lopes, E., Bollweg, T.M., Bröder, J., Messer, M., Bruland, D., Saboga-Nunes, L., Bond, E., Carvalho, G.S.d., Sahrai, D., Sørensen, K., Pelikan, J., Levin-Zamir, D., Thomas, M., Bittlingmayer, U.H., Bauer, U., Pinheiro, P. (2018). Generic health literacy measurement instruments for children and adolescents: a systematic review of the literature. BMC Public Health, 18(1), 166.