Bei Wu


Bei Wu headshot

Bei Wu


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

Accepting PhD students

Bei Wu's additional information

Bei Wu, PhD, is an inaugural co-director of the Aging Incubator at New York University. She holds the position of dean’s professor in global health and director of global health and aging research at NYU Rory Meyers College of Nursing. She is also the director of research at the Hartford Institute for Geriatric Nursing at NYU. As a 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. She is leading an ongoing NIH-funded clinical trial to improve oral health for persons with cognitive impairment.

Wu is an internationally known leader in gerontology. Her career in gerontology has been distinguished by interdisciplinary collaborations with researchers in various disciplines, including nursing and dentistry, at many academic institutions and organizations in the United States and abroad. Her research areas cover a wide range of topics related to aging and global health, including oral health, long-term care, dementia, and caregiving. She has published over 400 peer-reviewed papers, books, and conference abstracts and has delivered presentations at hundreds of conferences as an invited speaker. She has mentored hundreds of faculty members, visiting scholars, and students from various disciplines, including nursing, gerontology, dentistry, medicine, social work, demography, public health, sociology, public policy, geography, and economics.

Wu is a fellow of the Gerontological Society of America, Association for Gerontology in Higher Education, and the New York Academy of Medicine. She is an Honorary Member of the Honor Society of Nursing, Sigma Theta Tau International. Wu is the former president of the Geriatric Oral Research Group of the International Association for Dental Research. She has served on a number of NIH review panels and is a frequent reviewer for multiple international funding agencies. She was honored as the 2017 IADR Distinguished Scientist in Geriatric Oral Research.

Wu earned her PhD and MS in Gerontology from the University of Massachusetts, Boston, and BS from Shanghai University.

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


Honorary Member, Sigma Theta Tau International - Honor Society of Nursing

Faculty Honors 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)
Fellow, Association for Gerontology in Higher Education
Fellow, Gerontological Society of America
Fellow, New York Academy of Medicine


Advance Care Planning Engagement and End-of-life Preference Among Older Chinese Americans: Do Family Relationships and Immigrant Status Matter?

Pei, Y., Zhang, W., & Wu, B. (2021). Journal of the American Medical Directors Association, 22(2), 340-343. 10.1016/j.jamda.2020.06.040
Objectives: To examine how immigrant status and family relationships are associated with advance care planning (ACP) engagement and end-of-life (EOL) preference in burial planning among older Chinese Americans, the largest subgroup of Asian Americans. Design: Cross-sectional survey. Setting: Communities in Honolulu, Hawai'i. Participants: Participants were 430 older Chinese Americans aged 55 years and older. Measures: Measures included ACP contemplation, ACP discussion, and EOL preference in burial planning, immigrant status, family cohesion, family conflict, demographic information, and health status. Results: Results show that in comparison to foreign-born Chinese Americans, US-born Chinese Americans were more likely to have ACP contemplation [odds ratio (OR) 2.80, 95% confidence interval (CI) 1.39-5.63], ACP discussion (OR 3.02, 95% CI 1.50-6.08), and preferences for burial plans at the end of life (OR 4.56, 95% CI 2.04-10.18). Family conflict increased the possibility of having ACP contemplation (OR 1.21, 95% CI 1.07-1.38), ACP discussion (OR 1.22, 95% CI 1.07-1.39), and EOL preference in burial planning (OR 1.22, 95% CI 1.04-1.42), whereas family cohesion was not associated with these study outcomes. Conclusions and Implications: This study suggests that ACP should be adapted to be more culturally appropriate, especially in a time of coronavirus and xenophobia, such as framing ACP as a tool to help families reduce stress while fulfilling filial obligations, in order to ensure equitable access to ACP.

Advance Directive Completion and Its Associated Factors Among Older Chinese Americans

Wang, K., Liu, Y., Sun, F., Kong, D., Jiang, L., & Wu, B. (2021). Journal of the American Medical Directors Association, 22(2), 344-348. 10.1016/j.jamda.2020.06.049
Objectives: To examine the factors of advance directive (AD) completion among older Chinese Americans. Design: Cross-sectional survey. Setting and Participants: Data came from 435 Chinese Americans aged 55 years and older living in 2 metropolitan areas through self-administered questionnaires and research assistant–administered interviews in 2018. Participants' average age was 75 years (standard deviation = 9.4). Methods: Logistic regression was used to examine factors associated with AD completion. Results: Approximately 14% of participants completed an AD. Older age [odds ratio (OR) 1.07, 95% confidence interval (CI) 1.02-1.12], higher level of acculturation (OR 2.15, 95% CI 1.39-3.33), higher expectation for intergenerational support (OR 1.52, 95% CI 1.02-2.27), and having US citizenship (OR 3.02, 95% CI 1.26-7.23) were positively associated with AD completion. Physical and mental health needs were not significantly associated with AD completion. Conclusions and Implications: This study is among the first focusing on AD completion among Chinese Americans, one of the fastest-growing older minority populations in the United States. Findings highlight the influence of socioeconomic and cultural factors on AD completion and illustrate the importance of developing culturally sensitive interventions to promote end-of-life care decision making among older Chinese Americans.

Care partner–assisted intervention to improve oral health for older adults with cognitive impairment: A feasibility study

Wu, B., Anderson, R. A., Pei, Y., Xu, H., Nye, K., Poole, P., Bunn, M., Lynn Downey, C., & Plassman, B. L. (2021). Gerodontology. 10.1111/ger.12528
Background and Objectives: Older adults with cognitive impairment often experience poor oral health outcomes due to inadequate oral hygiene practices. This pilot study aimed to evaluate the feasibility of a care partner–assisted intervention to improve the oral hygiene of community-dwelling older adults with cognitive impairment. Material and Methods: The 6-month intervention included 25 older adults with mild dementia or mild cognitive impairment, who were randomly assigned to Treatment Group 1 or Treatment Group 2. Treatment Group 1 (n = 7) received an educational booklet. Treatment Group 2 (n = 18) received a booklet, a tailored care plan for the participants with cognitive impairment and the care partner received four coaching sessions to learn to facilitate good oral hygiene. Both groups received electric toothbrushes. The study consisted of a 3-month active intervention and 3-month maintenance phase. The outcomes of gingival index, plaque index and overall oral health status based on the Oral Health Assessment Tool were measured at baseline, 3 months (end of active intervention) and 6 months of the study. Results: This study had very low dropout rate. Participants’ oral hygiene improved in this study. In comparison to Treatment Group 1, participants in Treatment Group 2 had a greater reduction in plaque level and gingival inflammation, and greater improvement in overall oral health status. Conclusion: This study demonstrates the feasibility of this intervention designed to improve the oral health of persons with cognitive impairment and it lays the foundation for using this protocol in a future large randomised clinical trial.

Evaluating the Quality of Home Care in China Using the Home Care Quality Assessment Tool

Tang, X., Ge, S., Ma, C., Chen, X., Pei, Y., Zhou, L., & Wu, B. (2021). Journal of Transcultural Nursing, 32(2), 173-179. 10.1177/1043659620953191
Introduction: This study aimed to evaluate the quality of home care in China using the Home Care Quality Assessment Tool (HCQuAT). Method: We recruited 38 home health agencies in Shanghai, China, which included 18 in urban areas, 11 in suburban areas, and nine in rural areas. Data on quality of home care from each agency were collected by trained staff using the HCQuAT. Results: On average, these home health agencies scored 74.28/100.00 (SD = 6.80) on the HCQuAT, with an excellence rate of 39.5% and a failing rate of 23.7%. The mean scores on the structure quality module, process quality module, and outcome quality module were 71.2 ± 21.8, 86.6 ± 9.2, and 44.1 ± 37.5, respectively. Significant differences existed across geographic locations (p =.018). Discussion: Significant variations were identified in the quality of home care across quality modules and geographic locations. Outcome quality and quality in rural areas were lower than those for their counterparts.

Immigration and Oral Health in Older Adults: An Integrative Approach

Wu, B., Mao, W., Qi, X., & Pei, Y. (2021). Journal of Dental Research. 10.1177/0022034521990649
The aim of this study was to develop an integrative framework on aging, immigration, and oral health. The methodology was a critical review that used immigration as a social determinant framework through which to evaluate its impact on the oral health of older immigrants. We reviewed recent empirical evidence on factors related to oral health in older immigrants. In a systematic search across multiple databases, we identified 12 eligible studies in this review. Among the eligible studies, most were conducted among East Asian immigrants (8 articles), followed by non-Hispanic White/European origin (2 articles), Mexican origins (1 article), and Iran and other Middle East regions (1 article). The research revealed knowledge gaps in the evidence base, including the dynamic relationship between acculturation and oral health, the role of environmental factors on oral health for immigrants, psychosocial stressors and their relationship with oral health, and oral health literacy, norms, and attitude to dental care utilization and oral hygiene practices. The development of the integrative framework suggests the pathways/mechanisms through which immigration exerts influences on oral health in later life. This provides opportunities for researchers, practitioners, and policy makers to gain greater insights into the complex associations between immigration and oral health among older adults.

The Impact of Long-Term Care Policy on the Percentage of Older Adults With Disabilities Cared for by Family Members in China: A System Dynamics Simulation

Peng, R., & Wu, B. (2021). Research on Aging, 43(3), 147-155. 10.1177/0164027520923567
This study examined the impact of current and future long-term care (LTC) policies on the family caregiving burden in China. System dynamics (SD) methodology was used to construct an LTC delivery system model that simulates the demand of LTC, living options, and LTC service use for disabled older adults. The model was based on three policy variables including the proportion of payment from LTC insurance, the growth rate of beds in LTC institutions, and the time to adjusting the capacity of community-based care. Results showed that the percentage of older adults with disabilities cared for by family members was projected to increase from 92.6% in 2015 to 97.8% in 2035, assuming no policy changes; under the mixed policy scenario, this percentage would reduce significantly to 63.8% in 2035. These findings illustrate that changes in LTC policy and delivery system have a significant impact on family care.

Improving Care for Older Adults in China: Development of Long-Term Care Policy and System

Wu, B., Cohen, M. A., Cong, Z., Kim, K., & Peng, C. (2021). Research on Aging, 43(3), 123-126. 10.1177/0164027521990829
This special issue covers several important topics related to long-term care (LTC) systems and policy development in China. It provides a good contextual background on the development of the LTC system in China as well as the needs and preferences of LTC from family and older adults’ perspectives. In addition, this issue covers the topic of evaluation of a recently developed long-term care nursing insurance and provides an example of family caregiving for persons with dementia within the Chinese context. The authors in this special issue also provided insights into the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on older adults’ life and LTC quality, and explored potential strategies to handle the challenges during and post-pandemic.

Living With Cognitive Impairment in China: Exploring Dyadic Experiences Through a Person-Centered Care Lens

Wang, J., Corazzini, K. N., McConnell, E. S., Ding, D., Xu, H., Wei, S., & Wu, B. (2021). Research on Aging, 43(3), 177-187. 10.1177/0164027520935597
China has experienced a substantial increase in the number of older adults with dementia and milder forms of cognitive impairment. Being spouses of Persons with cognitive impairment (PWCI) and living with them for several decades does not necessarily mean that it is easier for them to provide person-centered care and maintain a valued and healthy relationship. The current study explored how elements of PCC, as operationalized by the Senses Framework, operate or fail to operate in the dyadic experiences of PWCI and their spousal care partners within the socio-cultural context of China. Our findings suggest that PWCI and their spouses experience the six senses through the person-centeredness in their daily interactions with each other. It also indicated successes and challenges to being person-centered early in the disease and identified their unmet needs as well as barriers and facilitators to improve their well-being.

Longitudinal Association Between Hearing Loss, Vision Loss, Dual Sensory Loss, and Cognitive Decline

Ge, S., McConnell, E. S., Wu, B., Pan, W., Dong, X. Q., & Plassman, B. L. (2021). Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, 69(3), 644-650. 10.1111/jgs.16933
BACKGROUND/OBJECTIVES: To better understand the role of sensory loss as a potentially modifiable risk factor for cognitive decline, this study examined cognitive decline in relation to single modality hearing or vision loss and dual sensory loss. DESIGN: Longitudinal secondary data analysis. SETTING: The Health and Retirement Study (HRS) and its supplement: The Aging, Demographics, and Memory Study (ADAMS). PARTICIPANTS: Individuals aged 73 and older (N = 295). MEASUREMENTS: Hearing loss was defined by an inability to hear sounds of 25 dB at frequencies between 0.5 and 4.0 kHz in either ear. Vision loss was defined as having corrected binocular vision worse than 20/40. Dual sensory loss was defined as having both hearing and vision loss. We used one time point of hearing and vision data objectively measured in ADAMS Wave C (June 2006–May 2008) and five waves of cognitive function data measured by the HRS version of the Telephone Interview for Cognitive Status in HRS (2006–2014). Multilevel mixed models were used. RESULTS: Among the participants, 271 completed a hearing assessment and 120 had hearing loss; 292 completed a vision assessment and 115 had vision loss; 52 had dual sensory loss. Older adults with hearing loss had a significantly faster rate of cognitive decline as they aged compared to those with normal hearing (β = −0.16, P <.05). No significant association was found between vision loss and the rate of cognitive decline (β = −0.06, P =.41). Older adults who had dual sensory loss likewise had a significantly faster rate of cognitive decline as they age (β = −0.23, P <.05) compared to those with no sensory loss. CONCLUSION: Older adults with hearing loss and dual sensory loss have faster rates of cognitive decline than those with normal sensory function.

Self-rated health as a mediator between physical health conditions and depressive symptoms in older Chinese and Korean Americans

Jang, Y., Yoon, H., Li, M., Park, N. S., Chiriboga, D. A., Wu, B., Dong, X. Q., & Kim, M. T. (2021). PloS One, 16(1). 10.1371/journal.pone.0245136
In the present study, we examined self-rated health as a mediator between physical health conditions (chronic diseases and functional disability) and depressive symptoms in older Chinese and Korean Americans. Using harmonized data (N = 5,063) from the Population Study of Chinese Elderly (PINE) and the Study of Older Korean Americans (SOKA), we tested direct and indirect effect models. In both groups, chronic diseases and functional disability were closely associated with negative ratings of health and symptoms of depression. Analyses with the PROCESS macro showed that the effect of chronic diseases and functional disability on depressive symptoms was mediated by self-rated health in both groups; the indirect effect was greater in the Korean American sample than in the Chinese American sample. These findings contribute to the understanding of the psychological mechanisms that underlie the mind-body connection and highlight the potential importance of subjective health assessment as a useful tool for health promotion.