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

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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.

Age at Migration and Cognitive Health Among Chinese Older Immigrants in the United States

Guo, M., Li, M., Xu, H., Stensland, M., Wu, B., & Dong, X. Q. (2021). Journal of Aging and Health. 10.1177/08982643211006612
Objectives: This study addressed two questions: (1) Is age at migration associated with cognitive function among Chinese older immigrants? and (2) what personal and environmental factors confound the above relationship? Methods: Data were derived from the Population Study of Chinese Elderly (N = 2957). Quantile and linear regressions were used to examine the associations between age at migration and Mini-Mental State Examination (MMSE) and global cognitive function, respectively. Results: Migration in late middle age (50–64) or late adulthood (65 or older) was associated with lower MMSE scores. Global cognition did not vary by age at migration. Associations between age at migration and MMSE were stronger among individuals with lower education or social engagement. Discussion: Migrating late in one’s life has important implications for cognitive health over the life course. Findings are helpful to identify vulnerable older immigrant segments and provide tailored interventions to promote their cognitive health.

Art Attendance and Change in Cognitive Function Among U.S. Community-Dwelling Chinese Older Adults

Petrovsky, D. V., Wu, B., Hodgson, N. A., & Dong, X. Q. (2021). Journal of Applied Gerontology. 10.1177/07334648211017339
Engaging in leisure activities that are cognitively simulating and enjoyable may be protective against cognitive decline in older adults; yet, few studies have examined this topic. We used two waves of data from the Population Study of Chinese Elderly and ran mixed-effects regression models to examine the relationship between baseline art activity attendance (including attending museum, musical arts, or both) and change in cognitive function (global, episodic memory, working memory, and executive function) among 2,703 older U.S. Chinese adults. We found that compared with older adults who did not attend any art activities, those who reported attending both art activities experienced a slower rate of change in episodic memory (estimate = −0.07; SE = 0.03; p =.01) and executive function (estimate = −0.06; SE =.03; p =.04). Our study findings point to the importance of attending art-based culture events among U.S. Chinese older adults.

Assessment of Coronavirus Disease 2019 Infection and Mortality Rates Among Nursing Homes With Different Proportions of Black Residents

Travers, J. L., Agarwal, M., Estrada, L. V., Dick, A. W., Gracner, T., Wu, B., & Stone, P. W. (2021). Journal of the American Medical Directors Association, 22(4), 893-898.e2. 10.1016/j.jamda.2021.02.014
Objective: Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) has disproportionately impacted nursing homes (NHs) with large shares of Black residents. We examined the associations between the proportion of Black residents in NHs and COVID-19 infections and deaths, accounting for structural bias (operationalized as county-level factors) and stratifying by urbanicity/rurality. Design: This was a cross-sectional observational cohort study using publicly available data from the LTCfocus, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Long-Term Care Facility COVID-19 Module, and the NYTimes county-level COVID-19 database. Four multivariable linear regression models omitting and including facility characteristics, COVID-19 burden, and county-level fixed effects were estimated. Setting and Participants: In total, 11,587 US NHs that reported data on COVID-19 to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and had data in LTCfocus and NYTimes from January 20, 2020 through July 19, 2020. Measures: Proportion of Black residents in NHs (exposure); COVID-19 infections and deaths (main outcomes). Results: The proportion of Black residents in NHs were as follows: none= 3639 (31.4%), <20% = 1020 (8.8%), 20%-49.9% = 1586 (13.7%), ≥50% = 681 (5.9%), not reported = 4661 (40.2%). NHs with any Black residents showed significantly more COVID-19 infections and deaths than NHs with no Black residents. There were 13.6 percentage points more infections and 3.5 percentage points more deaths in NHs with ≥50% Black residents than in NHs with no Black residents (P <.001). Although facility characteristics explained some of the differences found in multivariable analyses, county-level factors and rurality explained more of the differences. Conclusions and Implications: It is likely that attributes of place, such as resources, services, and providers, important to equitable care and health outcomes are not readily available to counties where NHs have greater proportions of Black residents. Structural bias may underlie these inequities. It is imperative that support be provided to NHs that serve greater proportions of Black residents while considering the rurality of the NH setting.

Association between primary caregiver type and mortality among Chinese older adults with disability: a prospective cohort study

Liu, Y., Li, H., Wu, B., Liu, X., Chen, H., Jin, H. Y., & Wu, C. (2021). BMC Geriatrics, 21(1). 10.1186/s12877-021-02219-5
Background: Socio-demographic transitions have dramatically changed the traditional family care settings in China, caused unmet care needs among older adults. However, whether different primary caregiver types have different influences on disabled older adults’ health outcomes remain poorly understood. We aimed to examine the association between the type of primary caregiver (e.g., spouse and children) and death among community-dwelling Chinese older adults disabled in activities of daily living. Methods: We used data from Chinese Longitudinal Healthy Longevity Survey. The analytic sample comprised 4278 eligible adults aged ≥ 80 years. We classified primary caregiver type into five categories: spouse, son/daughter-in-law, daughter/son-in-law, grandchildren, and domestic helper. We used Cox regression model to examine the association between primary caregiver type and all-cause mortality. Covariates included age, sex, residence, years of education, co-residence status, financial independence, whether living with children, number of ADL disability, number of chronic conditions, and self-reported health, cognitive impairment, and caregiving quality. Results: Married older adults whose primary caregivers were son/daughter-in-law had a 38% higher hazard of death than those who had spouse as the primary caregiver. Married men who received care primarily from son/daughter-in-law or daughter/son-in-law had a 64 and 68% higher hazard of death, respectively, than those whose primary caregiver was spouse. The association between primary caregiver type and mortality among widowed older adults differed between urban and rural areas. Urban residents who had domestic helpers as the primary caregiver had an 16% lower hazard of death, while those living in rural areas had a 50% higher hazard of death, than those having son/daughter-in-law as the primary caregiver. Conclusions: The quality of care of the primary caregiver may be a risk factor for mortality of disabled older adults in China. Interventions are necessary for reducing unmet needs and managing care burden.

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, 38(3), 308-316. 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.

The Compliance of End-of-Life Care Preferences Among Older Adults and Its Facilitators and Barriers: A Scoping Review

Master, J. F., Wu, B., Ni, P., & Mao, J. (2021). Journal of the American Medical Directors Association. 10.1016/j.jamda.2021.05.007
Objectives: To explore the compliance of end-of-life (EOL) care preferences, and the facilitators and barriers of promoting quality of EOL care among older adults. Design: A scoping review was used to identify key themes in the compliance of EOL care preferences among older adults. Setting and participants: Studies published between 2009 and 2020 were identified from the Medline and Cochrane libraries. Eligible articles containing components related to the compliance of EOL care preferences among older adults were selected. Measures: The eligible articles were thematically synthesized. Factors that affected the compliance of EOL care preferences among older adults were identified from the key components. Results: In total, 35 articles were included to identify the key components in the compliance of EOL care preferences: (1) supportive policy, (2) supportive environment, (3) cultural characteristics, (4) advance care planning (ACP), (5) the concordance of EOL care preferences between patients and surrogate decision makers, (6) prognosis awareness, and (7) patient's health status and the type of disease. Facilitators for the compliance of EOL care preferences included enactment of relevant policy, sufficient care institutions, the utilization of ACP, and poor health status. Barriers included lack of supportive policy, different culture, and low utilization of ACP. Conclusions/Implications: The compliance of EOL care preferences was low among older adults. The compliance of EOL care preferences can be improved through relevant policy development and the utilization of ACP.

The development of a personalized symptom management mobile health application for persons living with hiv in China

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Disparities in Dental Service Use among Adult Populations in the United States

Wu, Y. Y., Zhang, W., & Wu, B. (2021). JDR Clinical and Translational Research. 10.1177/23800844211012660
Objectives: This article aims to examine the disparities in dental service utilization among 3 age groups: younger adults (20–49 y), middle-aged adults (50–64 y), and older adults (65+ y), among Whites, Hispanics, Blacks, Asians, American Indians or Alaska Natives (AIAN), and Native Hawaiian or other Pacific Islanders (NHOPI). Methods: Weighted logistic regression models were conducted to analyze 9 waves of cross-sectional survey data (2002–2018) from the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System. We estimated age group- and race/ethnic–specific prevalences of dental service utilization adjusting sociodemographics and self-rated health for each wave and compared with crude analysis. Next, we performed linear regression analysis of the trend of adjusted prevalences over time and the average level by race/ethnicity and age groups. Results: Racial/ethnic disparities increased with age, even though the adjusted prevalences of dental service utilization were less apparent than the crude analysis. The all-wave average prevalence was 71%. Black older adults had the lowest level of dental service utilization (65%) as compared with the 2 highest groups: White older adults (79%) and Asian older adults (76%). The general younger adult populations had low prevalences, with the lowest among Asian younger adults (65%). AIAN and NHOPI individuals from all age groups tended to have average or below average prevalences. In addition, a decreasing trend of dental service utilization was observed among White individuals of all age groups (0.2%–0.3% lower per year, P < 0.01) and AIAN younger adults (0.5% lower per year, P < 0.01). Conclusion: Health policy, federal funding, and community-based programs should address the needs of dental service utilization for racial/ethnic minorities including Blacks, AIANs, and NHOPIs. Knowledge Transfer Statement: Our study offers insights into our understanding of disparities in dental service utilization among minority racial/ethnic groups. As health policy, federal funding, and community-based programs seek to improve oral health, there is a need to address access to and utilization of dental service for Blacks, American Indians or Alaska Natives, and Native Hawaiian or other Pacific Islanders.