Bei Wu


Bei Wu headshot

Bei Wu


Dean's Professor in Global Health
Vice Dean, Research
Affiliated Professor, Ashman Department of Periodontology & Implant Dentistry
Co-director, NYU Aging Incubator

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Accepting PhD students

Bei Wu's additional information

Dr. Wu is Dean’s Professor in Global Health and Vice Dean for Research at the NYU Rory Meyers College of Nursing. She is an inaugural Co-Director of the NYU Aging Incubator. Prior to joining NYU, she was the Pauline Gratz Professor of Nursing at Duke University School of Nursing. Prof. Wu is an internationally-known leader in gerontology.

As a principal investigator, Prof. Wu has led numerous projects supported by federal agencies and private foundations, including the NIH and CDC. She is currently leading several NIH-funded projects including a clinical trial to improve oral health for persons

with cognitive impairment, and a large secondary data analysis to examine how the co-occurrence of diabetes and poor oral health may lead to the development of dementia and cognitive decline. She co-leads the newly funded Rutgers-NYU Center for Asian Health Promotion and Equity. Through this center, she also leads a 5-year intervention study that focuses on supporting Chinese and Korean dementia caregivers who are at increased risk for high blood pressure and diabetes due to the physical and emotional demands of caregiving. She is a director of the Research and Education Core for the NIA-funded Asian Resource Center for Minority Aging Research (RCMAR).

As a scholar, Prof. Wu is an internationally known leader in gerontology. Her scholarship has been distinguished by interdisciplinary collaborations with researchers in various disciplines, including nursing and dentistry, in the US 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 is one of the first in the nation to study the linkages between oral health and cognitive decline in older adults. Her research has also addressed knowledge gaps in the linkages between oral health and diabetes.

Prof. Wu has devoted much of her time to training the next generation of aging and nursing scientists from dozens of academic institutions in the U.S. and abroad. 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. She is successful in mentoring several dozens of early-stage faculty members in receiving competitive funding from NIH, Robert Wood Johnson Scholars, the Alzheimer’s Society (UK), National Science Foundation of China, China Medical Board, National Medical Research Council (Singapore), and many others. 

Prof. Wu is a productive researcher. She has published more than 600 peer-reviewed papers, books, reports, and conference abstracts. Her extensive publications cover a wide range of topics related to aging and global health. She has delivered presentations at hundreds of conferences as an invited speaker. Her work has been widely recognized in the field. Research findings from her team have been featured by the National Institute on Aging, and in numerous media outlets, including the New York Times, CNN, BBC, U.S. News and World Report, MarketWatch, CBS News, Reuters, AARP Bulletin, China Daily, Daily

Mail, South China Morning Post, and Financial Review.

Her achievement has been recognized by many international and national organizations and she is a fellow of the Gerontological Society of America, the 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, and 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. She is the recipient of the 2022 Wei Hu Inspiration Award from the China Health Policy and Management Society. 

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


Acculturation and Subsequent Oral Health Problems Among Foreign-Born Older Chinese Americans: Does Neighborhood Disorder Matter?

Mao, W., Wu, B., Chi, I., Yang, W., & Dong, X. Q. (2022). Research on Aging, 44(3), 231-240. 10.1177/01640275211018785
Objectives: To investigate the relationship between acculturation and subsequent oral health problems in older Chinese Americans and to further test the moderating role of neighborhood disorder in such a relationship. Methods: The working sample included 2,706 foreign-born community-dwelling older Chinese Americans aged 60 years or older who participated in the Population Study of Chinese Elderly in Chicago at baseline between 2011 and 2013 and the 2-year follow-up between 2013 and 2015. Stepwise Poisson regressions with lagged dependent variable were conducted. Results: Behavioral acculturation was protective against subsequent oral health problems, and the protective role was stronger among individuals reporting lower levels of neighborhood disorder. Residence in Chinatown was associated with an increase in the risk of subsequent oral health problems. Discussion: To reduce oral health symptoms and related burdens, it is important to consider, in practice and policy, the role of acculturation and the neighborhood on subsequent oral health outcomes.

Adverse childhood experiences in relation to comorbid cardiovascular diseases and diabetes among middle-aged and old adults in China

Zhang, K., Wu, B., & Zhang, W. (2022). Geriatrics and Gerontology International, 22(1), 12-18. 10.1111/ggi.14312
Aim: To examine whether various aspects of adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) are associated with comorbid cardiovascular diseases (CVDs) and diabetes among middle-aged and old adults in China. Methods: Using the 2018 China Health and Retirement Longitudinal Study survey and the 2014 Life History survey, in total, 17 115 respondents aged ≥45 years were included. Logistic regressions were applied to estimate the relationship between aspects of ACEs and diagnosis of both CVDs and diabetes while adjusting for adulthood demographics, health and health behaviors. Results: Childhood hunger (OR = 1.75, P < 0.01), childhood socioeconomic status (OR = 1.45, P < 0.05) and abuse from father (OR = 1.50, P < 0.05) were significantly associated with greater odds of comorbid CVDs and diabetes above and beyond adulthood characteristics. In addition, the effects of these ACEs on comorbidity were stronger than their effects on the single chronic condition. Conclusions: Our findings suggest that, for middle-aged and old Chinese adults, ACEs could have long-lasting impacts on multiple chronic conditions in later life. Public health interventions should focus on the early life stage as the protective childhood conditions might help in warning of later clustering chronic diseases. Geriatr Gerontol Int 2022; 22: 12–18.

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. (2022). Journal of Applied Gerontology, 41(4), 1047-1056. 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.

Differences in the oral health status in hospitalised stroke patients according to swallowing function: A cross-sectional study

Tian, F., Li, J., Wu, B., Xiao, R., Liu, J., Yu, J., Liu, L., & Zhu, R. (2022). Journal of Clinical Nursing. 10.1111/jocn.16254
Background: Dysphagia is one of the common complications caused by stroke, leading to poor oral health. Oral health is often neglected after stroke by clinical care providers and the patients. Identifying the status of oral health in hospitalised stroke patients with swallowing disorders will facilitate the attention of clinical care providers. Aim: To investigate the differences in the oral health status between hospitalised post-stroke patients with dysphagia and non-dysphagia. Design: A cross-sectional study. Methods: A purposive sampling method was used to recruit participants. Participants included hospitalised post-stroke patients with dysphagia and without dysphagia. Stroke patients were recruited from the Department of Neurology, Guizhou Provincial People's Hospital in China. A total of 120 stroke patients completed the survey. The data collected included their demographics, the scores on the Oral Health Assessment Tool (OHAT), Geriatric Oral Health Assessment Index (GOHAI), and the Eating Assessment Tool-10 (EAT-10). The study was compliant with the STROBE checklist. Results: The average age of the dysphagia group was 67 (64~76) vs the participants without dysphagia group 67 (65~76), (p =.610). The mean standard deviation (SD) OHAT score of participants with dysphagia was 5.28 (2.33) compared to participants without dysphagia 8.89 (3.07), (p <.05). This result indicates post-stroke dysphagia (PSD) patients had worse oral health than stroke patients without dysphagia. Binary logistic regression analysis showed that oral health status was the independent influencing factor of swallowing function (p <.01). Conclusion: The participants with dysphagia had worse oral health status compared to those without dysphagia, illustrating the critical importance of improving attention to oral health management in patients with post-stroke swallowing disorders. Relevance to clinical practice: Oral health was often omitted when comparing to other functional impairments resulting from stroke. Health caregivers of post-stroke patients with dysphagia should be aware of the importance of evaluating patient’s oral condition and implementing oral care.

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

Wu, Y. Y., Zhang, W., & Wu, B. (2022). JDR Clinical and Translational Research, 7(2), 182-188. 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.

Does Elevated Alcohol Consumption Delay the Diagnostic Assessment of Cognitive Impairment among Older Adults?

Kamsvaag, B., Tevik, K., Šaltytė Benth, J., Wu, B., Bergh, S., Selbaek, G., & Helvik, A. S. (2022). Dementia and Geriatric Cognitive Disorders Extra, 12(1), 14-23. 10.1159/000521924
Introduction: The time from symptom debut to assessment of cognitive impairment (TSA) is usually substantial, and many factors can influence the length of this interval. Our objective was to discern whether elevated alcohol consumption is associated with TSA. Methods: Alcohol consumption was measured among 3,236 older Norwegians assessed for cognitive impairment. Elevated consumption was defined as drinking 4-7 times a week. TSA was defined as the number of months between symptom debut and assessment. The association between alcohol consumption and TSA was examined with a multiple regression analysis controlled for sociodemographic and clinical covariates. Results: Mean (SD) and median TSA were 34.8 (35.8) and 24.0 months, respectively. Elevated alcohol consumption was not associated with TSA. Longer TSA was associated with being male, having a high education level, being retired or unemployed, being single, having low scores on the Mini-Mental State Examination (MMSE) or Personal Activities of Daily Living (PADL), having high subsyndrome scores of depression or agitation on The Neuropsychiatric Inventory-Questionnaire (NPI-Q), or having a spouse/cohabitant as the designated next of kin. Conclusion: This study indicates that elevated alcohol consumption does not influence TSA. Possible explanations are discussed, but further research is needed to determine the effect of alcohol definitively. We did identify other novel characteristics associated with TSA which may be important in minimizing the risk of delayed cognitive assessments and should be kept in mind when considering assessment.

Enhancement of Aging in Place: An Evolving Understanding of Person-Centered Dementia Care in Home Settings

Wang, J., Ding, D., & Wu, B. (2022). Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease, 86(3), 1315-1322. 10.3233/JAD-215612
Background: There has been a rich body of literature on informal caregivers of persons with dementia (PWD). However, little has been discussed on how to facilitate person-centered dementia care in home settings with spouses as primary caregivers. We tend to take it for granted that spouses provide person-centered care for PWD. However, being spouses of PWD and living with them for several decades does not necessarily mean that it is easier for them to provide person-centered dementia care and maintain valued and healthy relationships. Objective: The current study aimed to explore dyadic experiences of PWD and their spousal caregivers and develop a culturally and contextually-sensitive understanding of person-centered dementia care in home-based settings. Methods: A total of 20 dyads of PWD and their care partners were selected for this study. A trained qualitative interviewer conducted a one-on-one interview with each participant with dementia and their care partners separately. We adopted both conventional and directed content analyses. Results: Our findings provide examples of care partners provide person-centered care, resulting in a profound positive impact on their wellbeing. Adaptive leadership and collaborative work emerged as a key finding in facilitating person-centered dementia care. Cultural relevancy of person-centered dementia care was also interpreted from the data. The study findings provide implications for the evolving of person-centered dementia care model in home-based settings. Conclusion: Findings from this study highlight the significance of facilitating person-centered dementia care in home-based settings between PWD and their primary family caregivers.

Factors Associated with Death Anxiety Among Rural Chinese Older Adults: The Terror Management Perspective

Pei, Y., Cong, Z., Silverstein, M., Li, S., & Wu, B. (2022). Research on Aging, 44(1), 65-72. 10.1177/0164027520981726
Objectives: The aim of this study was to examine how the factors suggested by the Terror Management Theory are associated with death anxiety among rural Chinese older adults. Method: Data were derived from a longitudinal survey of older adults aged 60 and above, had at least one living child, and were living in rural areas of Anhui Province. The working sample included 1,362 older adults. Two-level random effects models were used. Results: Children’s financial support was negatively related to death anxiety, whereas emotional closeness with children was positively related to death anxiety. Older women reported more death anxiety than older men. Functional limitations were positively associated with death anxiety, and the widowed reported less death anxiety than the married. We did not find a significant association between religious belief and death anxiety. Discussion: The study highlights the importance of culture in shaping death anxiety among older adults in rural China.

Findings of Sequential Pilot Trials of Aliviado Dementia Care to Inform an Embedded Pragmatic Clinical Trial

Lin, S. Y., Schneider, C. E., Bristol, A. A., Clancy, M., Sprague, S. A., Aldridge, M., Cortes, T., Goldfeld, K. S., Kutner, J. S., Mitchell, S. L., Shega, J. W., Wu, B., Zhu, C. W., & Brody, A. A. (2022). Gerontologist, 62(2). 10.1093/geront/gnaa220
Background and Objectives: Many investigators of Alzheimer's disease and related dementias (AD/ADRD) are unfamiliar with the embedded pragmatic clinical trials (ePCTs) and the indispensable pilot phase preceding ePCTs. This paper provides a much-needed example for such a pilot phase and discusses implementation barriers and additional infrastructure and implementation strategies developed in preparation for a nationwide AD/ADRD ePCT. Research Design and Methods: Two pilot trials were conducted in 2 hospices sequentially to refine and test Aliviado Dementia Care - Hospice Edition, a complex quality improvement intervention for advanced dementia symptom management. Readiness for the subsequent full-scale ePCT was assessed by three milestones: ≥80% training completion rate ("feasibility"), ≥80% posttraining survey respondents indicating intention for practice changes ("applicability"), and at least 1 Aliviado care plan/assessment instrument administered in ≥75% of dementia patients admitted to home hospice within 1-month posttraining ("fidelity"). Results: Participants included 72 interdisciplinary team members and 11 patients with AD/ADRD across the pilots. Feasibility, applicability, and fidelity outcomes (92%, 93%, and 100%, respectively) all surpassed the preestablished milestones (80%, 80%, and 75%). Main implementation challenges were related to hospice staff turnover, integration of the Aliviado toolbox materials within the electronic health records, and hospices' limited research experience and infrastructure. Discussion and Implications: This pilot phase demonstrated feasibility, applicability, and fidelity required to proceed to the full-scale ePCT. Our study findings and discussions of additional infrastructure and implementation strategies developed following the pilot phase can inform researchers and clinicians interested in conducting AD/ADRD-related pilot studies for ePTCs or quality improvement initiatives. Clinical Trials Registration Number: NCT03681119.

Having sex with partners met online among bachelors in China: application of the theory of planned behavior

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