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

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 hlobal 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.

Education

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

Specialties

Gerontology
Global

Professional membership

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

Honors and awards

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

Publications

Publications

Anxiety about aging, resilience and health Status among Chinese older adults: Findings from Honolulu and Wuhan

Zhang, K., Zhang, W., Wu, B., & Liu, S. (2020). Archives of Gerontology and Geriatrics, 88. 10.1016/j.archger.2020.104015
Abstract
A growing body of literature found that anxiety about aging is related to health and well-being of older adults. However, very few studies have been conducted on Chinese older adults residing in different countries and examined the role of resilience. Using the Pearlin's Stress Process Model, this study aims to fill in this gap by examining the relationship between anxiety about aging as the stressor and health status among Chinese older adults living in Honolulu, the United States (N = 292) and Wuhan, China (N = 532). The survey data were collected through June 2017 to September 2018, using snowball and convenience sampling strategy. The moderating role of resilience on the focal relationship is also explored. Results showed that for both samples, the negative relationship between anxiety about aging and self-rated health was significantly moderated by resilience (18 % and 13 %, respectively), implying the stress-buffering role of resilience. Although both mean levels of resilience and anxiety about aging were lower for the Honolulu sample, the moderating effect appeared to be stronger, implying that older adults in the Honolulu sample might rely more on psychological resources such as resilience in coping with stressors, compared with their counterparts in Wuhan. However, the moderating effect of resilience did not work for the association between anxiety about aging and number of chronic conditions for both samples. Our findings suggest that future research needs to take into account both social and psychological resources when examining anxiety about aging and health status among Chinese older adults residing in different cultural contexts.

Association between childhood conditions and arthritis among middle-aged and older adults in China: The China Health and Retirement Longitudinal Study

Lu, N., Wu, B., Jiang, N., & Dong, T. (2020). Ageing and Society. 10.1017/S0144686X20000343
Abstract
This study examined the association between childhood conditions and arthritis among middle-aged and older adults in China. The data were derived from the 2015 wave and the life-history module of the China Health and Retirement Longitudinal Study. Face-to-face interviews were conducted with respondents age 45 and over across China. Multiple imputation was used to handle the missing data, generating a final analytic sample of 19,800. Doctor-diagnosed arthritis was the main outcome variable. Random-effects logistic regression models were used to test the proposed models. Approximately 8 per cent of the respondents had better family financial status in childhood than their neighbours. Close to 8 per cent had been hospitalised or encountered similar conditions (e.g. confined to bed or home) for at least one month in childhood. Around one-third reported better subjective health in childhood than their peers. The majority of the respondents (80%) reported that they had stable health resources, and that their mothers were illiterate during their childhood. Childhood family financial status, subjective health, mother's education, access to health care and medical catastrophic events were found to be significant factors associated with arthritis in later life, after controlling for adulthood and older-age conditions (family financial status: odds ratio (OR) = 0.885, 95 per cent confidence interval (95% CI) = 0.848-0.924; subjective health: OR = 0.924, 95% CI = 0.889-0.960; mother's education: OR = 0.863, 95% CI = 0.750-0.992; access to health care: OR = 0.729, 95% CI = 0.552-0.964; medical catastrophic events: OR = 1.266, 95% CI = 1.108-1.446). The study results highlight an important role that childhood conditions play in affecting the onset of arthritis in late life in China. Health-care providers may consider childhood conditions as a valuable screening criterion to identify risk populations, which could be used to guide health promotion and prevention programmes, and promote healthy ageing.

Characterizing Sugar-Sweetened Beverage Consumption for US Children and Adolescents by Race/Ethnicity

Russo, R. G., Northridge, M. E., Wu, B., & Yi, S. S. (2020). Journal of Racial and Ethnic Health Disparities. 10.1007/s40615-020-00733-7
Abstract
OBJECTIVES: To examine racial/ethnic differences in type of SSB most frequently consumed and in correlates of youth sugar-sweetened beverage (SSB) intake.METHODS: Data were obtained from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES), 2011-2016, for children and adolescents aged 5-17 years (n = 6507). The main outcome was SSB consumption (i.e., sodas, sweetened fruit drinks, nectars, sports and energy drinks, sweetened coffees and teas, enhanced waters). Mean and proportions of SSB intake were estimated accounting for complex sampling strategy and weighting. Multivariable regression models were developed for each race/ethnicity and age group.RESULTS: Two-thirds of children and adolescents reported consuming SSB on a given day. Among consumers, mean SSB consumption was greatest for Black children and White adolescents and lowest for Asian American children and adolescents. The most popular type of SSB consumed was sweetened fruit drinks among children and soda among adolescents, except among White and Mexican American children for whom soda and Black adolescents for whom sweetened fruit drinks were most popular. Female sex and water intake were negatively associated with SSB consumption across most races/ethnicities. Screen time, dentist visits, nativity, and guardian education were associated with SSB intake among a subset of races/ethnicities.CONCLUSIONS: Associations between covariates and SSB intake as well as types of beverages preferred vary by race/ethnicity, as such chronic disease policies should not be 'one size fits all'. Targeted interventions for specific groups of vulnerable youths hold promise for further reducing SSB consumption, including directing efforts towards reducing sweetened fruit drinks for Black children.

Education, adult children's education, and depressive symptoms among older adults in rural China

Pei, Y., Cong, Z., & Wu, B. (2020). Social Science and Medicine, 253. 10.1016/j.socscimed.2020.112966
Abstract
This study examines whether children's education amplifies the effect of older adults' own education on their later life depressions in rural China. Data derives from six waves of panel data (2001, 2003 2006, 2009, 2012 and 2015) from the Longitudinal Study of Older Adults in Anhui Province, China. Random effect models showed that both older adults' own education and adult children's education had direct effects on depressive symptoms of older adults. Older adults' education influenced children's education, and in turn influenced intergenerational support from children, which consequently influenced depressive symptoms of older adults. Taken together, children's education amplifies the effect of older adults' own education on their depressive symptoms in rural China. This process increases health inequalities among older adults as a result of associated educational achievements in two generations. Educational policy should promote the equality of educational attainment of individuals in the future.

Effects of Care Arrangement on the Age of Institutionalization among Community-dwelling Chinese Older Adults

Wang, J., Yang, Q., & Wu, B. (2020). Journal of Aging and Social Policy. 10.1080/08959420.2020.1726720
Abstract
Early and unnecessary institutionalization of older adults can be a heavy burden on the country and taxpayers. It is crucial to understand factors impacting the age of institutionalization of older adults in China. This study examined care arrangements of older adults in China and the relationship between these arrangements and the age of relocation to long-term care facilities (institutionalization). Results show that care arrangements affect the age of institutionalization among community-dwelling Chinese older adults. Those who were primarily cared for by sons and daughter-in-laws tended to be institutionalized at a significantly later age compared to those who were cared for by their spouses. Those who were primarily cared for by other relatives and friends, by domestic helpers, and those with no caregivers tended to have significantly earlier institutionalization compared to those who were cared for by their spouses. However, the number of older adults living in empty nest families is increasing rapidly. Traditional family support for older adults has been shrinking due to fewer children, out-migration of adult children from rural to urban areas, and increased employment of women in China. There is an acute shortage of competent and qualified elder care workers. Most Chinese domestic helpers started their work with limited or even no training, risking the safety of themselves and their employers. In addition to increasing and optimizing the investment in the elder care industry, legal protection and policy support for the elderly and domestic helpers are urgently needed to address these key issues.

Gender differences in quality of life among community-dwelling older adults in low- and middle-income countries: results from the Study on global AGEing and adult health (SAGE)

Lee, K. H., Xu, H., & Wu, B. (2020). BMC Public Health, 20(114). doi.org/10.1186/s12889-020-8212-0
Abstract
Quality of life (QoL) is an important component of individuals’ general well-being, particularly in older adults. However, factors influencing QoL among older adults in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) have not been fully examined. Furthermore, the role of gender differences in relation to QoL in multiple LMICs has also not been examined in detail.

How Bachelorhood and Migration Increase the HIV Transmission Risk Through Commercial Sex in China?

Xiao, Q., Liu, H., & Wu, B. (2020). AIDS and Behavior, 24(3), 791-801. 10.1007/s10461-019-02640-3
Abstract
In China, the serious involuntary bachelorhood due to sex ratio imbalance in decades is expected to dramatically increase the spread of HIV through heterosexual contact. However, the higher HIV transmission risk and its correlates among never married men in rural China are not well understood. This study explored whether and how bachelorhood and migration increased the HIV transmission risk through commercial sex. By combining two cross-sectional survey data from never married men in rural areas and male migrants (including both married and unmarried men) in urban areas, a total of 1030 participants who were never married and age 28 and above or married male migrants were included in this study. The results show that both bachelorhood and migration put the never married male migrants at particularly higher HIV transmission risk by increasing both the possibility of engaging in commercial sex, and the frequency and inconsistency of condom use in commercial sex. Selection bias into marriage and neighborhood characteristics associated with exposure to commercial sexual risk may partly explain why male migrants that never married had a higher commercial sex related risk than that of married male migrants and never married non-migrant males.

Immigrant Status, Resilience, and Perceived Oral Health Among Chinese Americans in Hawaii

Wu, B., Pei, Y., Zhang, W., & Northridge, M. (2020). Research on Aging, 164027520912493. 10.1177/0164027520912493
Abstract
OBJECTIVES: This study aims to examine the associations among immigrant status, resilience, and perceived oral health for Chinese American older adults in Hawaii.METHOD: Data derived from 430 Chinese American adults aged 55 years and older residing in Honolulu, HI. We compared the self-rated oral health and oral health problems between U.S.-born Chinese Americans and foreign-born Chinese Americans by using ordered logistic regression and ordinary least squares regression models.RESULTS: Findings suggest that immigrant status and lower levels of resilience are associated with poorer self-rated oral health and more oral health problems for Chinese American older adults in Hawaii. Resilience is more strongly associated with self-rated oral health for U.S.-born Chinese American than for foreign-born Chinese Americans, but this pattern was not evident for oral health problems.DISCUSSION: Older Chinese American immigrants in Hawaii are disadvantaged in terms of their oral health. Understanding their susceptibilities may lead to targeted interventions.

Immigrant Status, Resilience, and Perceived Oral Health Among Chinese Americans in Hawaii

Wu, B., Pei, Y., Zhang, W., & Northridge, M. (2020). Research on Aging, 42(5), 186-195. 10.1177/0164027520912493
Abstract
Objectives: This study aims to examine the associations among immigrant status, resilience, and perceived oral health for Chinese American older adults in Hawaii. Method: Data derived from 430 Chinese American adults aged 55 years and older residing in Honolulu, HI. We compared the self-rated oral health and oral health problems between U.S.-born Chinese Americans and foreign-born Chinese Americans by using ordered logistic regression and ordinary least squares regression models. Results: Findings suggest that immigrant status and lower levels of resilience are associated with poorer self-rated oral health and more oral health problems for Chinese American older adults in Hawaii. Resilience is more strongly associated with self-rated oral health for U.S.-born Chinese American than for foreign-born Chinese Americans, but this pattern was not evident for oral health problems. Discussion: Older Chinese American immigrants in Hawaii are disadvantaged in terms of their oral health. Understanding their susceptibilities may lead to targeted interventions.

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. (2020). Research on Aging. 10.1177/0164027520923567
Abstract
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.

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