Faculty

Bei Wu headshot

Bei Wu

PhD

Dean's Professor in Global Health
Director, Global Health & Aging Research
Director for Research, Hartford Institute for Geriatric Nursing
Affiliated Professor, Ashman Department of Periodontology & Implant Dentistry

1 212 992 5951

433 First Avenue
Room 520
New York, NY 10010
United States

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Professional overview

Dr. Bei Wu joined NYU Rory Meyers College of Nursing as a fully tenured Professor of Nursing. She received her Bachelor of Law from Shanghai University and her PhD in Gerontology from University of Massachusetts Boston.

Dr. Wu’s career in gerontology has been distinguished by interdisciplinary collaborations with researchers in various disciplines (particularly in nursing and in dentistry) at many academic institutions and organizations in the U.S. and abroad. She has provided keynote presentations, lectures, and/or consultation in dozens of universities and organizations in the United States and globally, including China, Singapore, the Netherlands, Norway, and Turkey.  As Principal Investigator, she has led a significant number of projects supported by federal agencies such as the National Institutes of Health and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.  Her numerous publications cover a variety of issues related to aging and health, including long-term care, dementia, caregiving, and oral health.  She has served on a number of NIH review panels and is also a frequent grant reviewer for the Research Fund of Hong Kong Food and Health Bureau, Medical Research Council (United Kingdom), and Chang Jiang Scholars Program at the Ministry of Education of China.

Dr. Wu was previously The Pauline Gratz Professor of Nursing and Professor of Global Health at Duke University, where she served as Director for International Research in the School of Nursing.  She was also a Senior Fellow of the Duke University Center for the Study of Aging and Human Development.  Dr. Wu is a fellow of the Gerontological Society of America and the Association for Gerontology in Higher Education. She is an Advisory Professor at Fudan University and was a Visiting Chair Professor at Wuhan University, Shanghai University, and Jiangsu University.  Dr. Wu is President of the Geriatric Oral Health Group of the International Association for Dental Research and Chair of the Mentoring Committee at the Gerontological Society of America.

Education

BS, Shanghai University
MS, University of Massachusetts – Boston, Gerontology Center
PhD, University of Massachusetts – Boston, Gerontology Center

Honors and awards

Distinguished Scientist Award for Geriatric Oral Research, International Association for Dental Research (2017)
Pauline Gratz Professorship, Duke University School of Nursing (2014)
J. Morita Junior Investigator Award in Geriatric Oral Health, International Association for Dental Research (2007)

Specialties

Gerontology
Global

Professional membership

Fellow, Gerontological Society of America
Fellow, Association for Gerontology in Higher Education
Fellow, New York Academy of Medicine
Honorary Member, The Honor Society of Nursing, Sigma Theta Tau International

Publications

Publications

Psychological well-being of Chinese Immigrant adult-child caregivers: how do filial expectation, self-rated filial performance, and filial discrepancy matter?

Liu, J., Wu, B., & Dong, X. (2019). Aging and Mental Health. 10.1080/13607863.2018.1544210
Abstract
Background: Given the importance of ethnic culture in family caregiving and recent Chinese immigrant population growth, this study explored effects of multiple filial piety traits—filial expectation, self-rated filial performance, and filial discrepancy—on psychological well-being of Chinese immigrants who care for older parents (adult-child caregivers) in the United States. Methods: This study used cross-sectional data from 393 Chinese immigrant adult-child caregivers in the Greater Chicago area from the 2012–2014 Piety study. Multivariate negative binomial and linear regression analyses tested effects of filial expectation, self-rated filial performance, overall filial discrepancy, and discrepancies in six filial domains (respect, bringing happiness, care, greeting, obedience, and financial support) on psychological well-being indicators: depressive symptoms and stress. Results: Adult-child caregivers reported high filial expectation and self-rated performance, and expectation was higher than performance. High filial expectation and self-rated performance were significantly associated with better psychological well-being; Overall filial discrepancy and two emotional-support domain discrepancies (respect, greeting) were associated with poor psychological well-being. Conclusions: Findings suggest that filial expectation, self-rated filial performance, and filial discrepancy are important in shaping Chinese adult-child caregivers’ psychological well-being. Researchers and practitioners should incorporate these aspects of filial piety in future research and intervention development for this population.

Aging and Global Health

Wu, B., & Feng, Y. (2018). People’s Medical Publishing House.

Aging and Long-term Care

Wu, B., & Peng, R. (2018). In Aging and Global Health (pp. 149-165). People’s Medical Publishing House.

Associations Between Acculturation and Oral Health Among Older Chinese Immigrants in the United States

Ge, S., Wu, B., & Dong, X. (2018). Gerontology and Geriatric Medicine, 4(1). http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/2333721418778197
Abstract
Background: The aim of this study was to understand the associations between acculturation and oral health among older Chinese immigrants in the United States. Method: We used data from the PINE study, which included the foreign-born older Chinese immigrants (N = 3,128). We measured acculturation by measuring participants’ length of stay and behavioral acculturation. Participants’ tooth and gum symptoms were the outcome variables. Results: Longer stay in the United States was significantly associated with fewer gum symptoms but not with tooth symptoms. Behavioral acculturation was not significantly associated with either tooth or gum symptoms. The middle tertile of behavioral acculturation, compared with its upper and lower tertiles, deemed to be a more significant risk factor of tooth/gum symptoms. In addition, older immigrants with more social interactions with the Americans were more likely to have tooth symptoms. Discussion: In the future, we will conduct a study using longitudinal data to help us better understand the relationship between acculturation and oral health in Chinese American population.

A comparison of perceived uselessness between centenarians and non-centenarians in China

Zhao, Y., Fu, H., Guo, A., Qiu, L., Cheung, K. S., Wu, B., Jopp, D., & Gu, D. (2018). BMC Geriatrics, 18(1). 10.1186/s12877-018-0944-7
Abstract
Background: Self-perceived uselessness is associated with poorer health in older adults. However, it is unclear whether there is a difference in self-perceived uselessness between centenarians and non-centenarians, and if so, which factors contributed to the difference. Methods: We used four waves of a nationwide longitudinal dataset from 2005 to 2014 in China to investigate these research goals. We first performed multinomial logit regression models to examine the risk of the high or moderate frequency of self-perceived uselessness relative to the low frequency among centenarians (5778 persons) in comparison with non-centenarians aged 65-99 (20,846 persons). We then conducted a cohort analysis for those born in 1906-1913, examining differences in self-perceived uselessness between those centenarians and those died between ages 91 and 99 during 2005-2014. Results: Compared to persons aged 65-79, centenarians had 84% (relative risk ratio (RRR) = 1.84, 95% CI:1.69-2.01) and 35% (RRR = 1.35, 95% CI: 1.25-1.46) higher risk to have the high frequency and the moderate frequency of feeling useless versus low frequency, respectively, when only demographic factors were controlled for. However, centenarians had 31% (RRR = 0.69, 95% CI: 0.54-0.88), 43% (RRR = 0.57, 95% CI: 0.49-0.68), and 25% (RRR = 0.75, 95% CI: 0.67-0.83) lower risk, respectively, to have the high frequency of self-perceived uselessness relative to the low frequency when a wide set of study covariates were controlled for. In the case of the moderate versus the low frequency of self-perceived uselessness, the corresponding figures were 18% (RRR = 0.82, 95% CI: 0.66-1.02), 22% (RRR = 0.78, 95%CI: 0.67-0.90), and 13% (RRR = 0.87, 95% CI: 0.79-0.96), respectively. The cohort analysis further indicates that those who became centenarians were 36-39% less likely than those died at ages 91-94 to report the high and the moderate frequencies of self-perceived uselessness versus the low frequency; no difference was found between centenarians and those died at ages 95-99. In both period and cohort analyses, behavioral and health-related factors affected the perception substantially. Conclusions: Overall, centenarians were less likely to perceive themselves as useless compared to non-centenarians of younger birth cohorts when a wide set of covariates were considered and non-centenarians of the same birth cohort. How centenarians manage to do so remains an open question. Our findings may help improve our understanding about the longevity secrets of centenarians.

Contributory behaviors and life satisfaction among Chinese older adults: Exploring variations by gender and living arrangements

Liu, S., Zhang, W., Wu, L. H., & Wu, B. (2018). Social Science and Medicine. 10.1016/j.socscimed.2018.06.015
Abstract
The rapid population aging taking place in China makes studies tackling opportunities associated with aging an urgent priority. Based on the productive aging perspective, this study examines the relationship between contributory behaviors (i.e., providing economic, housework, and emotional support to adult children and providing care for grandchildren) and life satisfaction, as well as how gender and living arrangements modify the relationship. Using data collected from 809 older adults in Wuhan, China, and applying ordinary least squares regressions, this study found that engaging in contributory behaviors in general, and providing emotional support to adult children and caring for grandchildren in particular, are associated with enhanced life satisfaction. The association between caring for grandchildren and life satisfaction is only salient for males but not for females. For living arrangements, the positive association between engaging in contributory behaviors and life satisfaction is only identified among older adults living with their spouse and other family members. The positive association of providing emotional support to adult children with life satisfaction is significant for older adults living with their spouse only. Finally, frequently taking care of grandchildren is related positively to life satisfaction among those living with both spouse and other family members. Our findings provide empirical evidence suggesting that Chinese older adults are still very active in providing support to family members and highlight the beneficial effects of contributory behaviors on individual's life satisfaction. For policy makers, it is important to continuously promote values of contributing behaviors to family and take into account the importance of family ties and family support to older adults when designing new elder care programs.

Defining Successful Aging: Perceptions From Elderly Chinese in Hawai‘i

Zhang, W., Liu, S., & Wu, B. (2018). Gerontology and Geriatric Medicine, 4(1). http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/full/10.1177/2333721418778182
Abstract
Background: This study aims to examine the lay perceptions of successful aging among elderly Chinese in Hawai‘i, the state has the highest life expectancy in the United States. Method: Principal components factor analysis and logistic regression models were used to analyze survey data collected among 136 respondents who were asked to evaluate the importance of 12 successful aging items developed in Asian societies involving the Chinese population. Results: Results from factor analysis reveal three distinct factors out of the 12 items of successful aging—(a) psychosocial and economic well-being, (b) physical well-being, and (c) social support from adult children. The former two factors were perceived as important dimensions of successful aging by most survey participants, and approximately 35%-41% respondents viewed items composing Factor 3 as important. Discussion: Results suggest that elderly Chinese in Hawai‘i have unique perceptions of successful aging that go beyond the Rowe and Kahn’s biomedical model to include more psychosocial components. In addition, their perceptions are similar to but slightly different from perceptions of elderly Chinese in China and Singapore in levels of familism. Our findings indicate cultural variation of successful aging.

Dementia caregiver interventions in Chinese people: A systematic review

Wu, B., Petrovsky, D. V., Wang, J., Xu, H., Zhu, Z., McConnell, E. S., & Corrazzini, K. N. (2018). Journal of Advanced Nursing. 10.1111/jan.13865
Abstract
Aims: The aim of this systematic review was to examine the characteristics and the efficacy of dementia caregiving interventions among the Chinese population. Background: In recent years, an increasing number of dementia caregiving interventions have been developed for Chinese older adults living in Asia that aim to reduce caregivers’ burden, depression and distress, and enhance quality of life. Little is known, however, on the nature and the efficacy of these interventions. Design: Systematic review with narrative summary. Data sources: We searched four databases for studies published in English between 1 January 1994–30 December 2017. Nineteen studies reported in 23 articles were included in the final analysis. Review methods: We used a set of criteria from the Cochrane Collaboration tool to assess for the risk of bias across studies. Results: We found that interventions varied in length, frequency, approach, and content, making comparisons across studies challenging. Caregivers’ burden, depression, and distress were improved among most included studies. All studies that examined quality of life of caregivers (N = 6) showed improvement. Most of the interventions showed beneficial effects on care recipients’ behavioural symptoms, agitation, and depression; cognitive function, however, failed to improve. Conclusion: Although the review found mixed results on intervention outcomes, the majority of interventions showed a potential to improve the health and well-being of dementia caregivers and care recipients. This review provides suggestions for future dementia caregiving research in the Chinese population, such as inclusion of relevant theoretical frameworks and more rigorous research designs.

Dementia Caregiver Interventions in Chinese Population: A Systematic Review

Wu, B., Petrovsky , D. V., Wang, J., Xu, H., Zheng, Z., McConnell, E. S., & Corazzini, K. (2018). Journal of Advanced Nursing. 10.1111/jan.13865
Abstract
AimsThe aim of this systematic review was to examine the characteristics and efficacy of dementia caregiving interventions among the Chinese population.BackgroundIn recent years, an increasing number of dementia caregiving interventions have been developed for Chinese older adults living in Asia that aim to reduce caregivers’ burden, depression and distress and enhance quality of life. Little is known, however, on the nature and the efficacy of these interventions.DesignSystematic review with narrative summary.Data SourcesWe searched four databases for studies published in English between 1 January 1994 ‐ 30 December 2017. Nineteen studies reported in twenty‐three articles were included in the final analysis.Review MethodsWe used a set of criteria from the Cochrane Collaboration tool to assess for the risk of bias across studies.ResultsWe found that interventions varied in length, frequency, approach and content, making comparisons across studies challenging. Caregivers’ burden, depression and distress were improved among most included studies. All studies that examined quality of life of caregivers (N=6) showed improvement. Most of the interventions showed beneficial effects on care recipients’ behavioral symptoms, agitation and depression; cognitive function, however, failed to improve.ConclusionAlthough the review found mixed results on intervention outcomes, the majority of interventions showed a potential to improve the health and well‐being of dementia caregivers and care recipients. This review provides suggestions for future dementia caregiving research in the Chinese population, such as inclusion of relevant theoretical frameworks and more rigorous research designs.This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.

Does Oral Health Predict Functional Status in Late Life? Findings From a National Sample

Zhang, W., Wu, Y. Y., & Wu, B. (2018). Journal of Aging and Health, 30(6), 924-944. 10.1177/0898264317698552
Abstract
Objective: This study aims to examine the association between oral health and the decline in functional status among middle-aged and older adults in the United States. Method: Generalized estimation equation (GEE) Poisson regression models with robust standard errors were used to analyze the longitudinal panel data (2008-2014) from the Health and Retirement Study (N = 1,243). Oral health was evaluated using self-rated oral health, poor mouth condition, and tooth loss. Decline in functional status was assessed by disabilities in activities of daily living (ADLs) and instrumental activities of daily living (IADLs). Results: Respondents with poor oral health were more likely to experience decline in ADLs/IADLs. Adjusting for sociodemographics and comorbidities attenuated the effects of oral health. Discussion: Findings suggest that oral health might be one of the important predictors of functioning decline in late life, after adjusting sociodemographics and comorbidities.