Study Finds Surprising Health Care Proxy Selections

Who do you think people pick to make medical decisions for them? The answers found in a new study may surprise you. According to an article in the Detroit Free Press, the study found that when choosing a designated health care proxy, individuals do not necessarily choose their spouse, and sisters and daughters are more popular choices than brothers and sons. A health care proxy allows an individual to appoint someone else to act as his or her agent for medical decisions. If an individual becomes incapacitated, the agent has the authority to communicate that person's wishes concerning medical treatment.

The authors of the study, published in the Journal of General Internal Medicine, interviewed 298 adults ages 19 to 96 who received outpatient treatment at an eye clinic in Chicago. The researchers asked participants who they wanted as their emergency contact and who they would select to make health care decisions for them. According to the Detroit Free Press, the researchers found that:

  • one-third of participants did not select their spouse,
  • 28 percent of participants selected someone other than their emergency contact, and
  • participants were three times more likely to select a daughter than a son and two times more likely to select a sister than a brother.

The study also found that about one-fourth of participants had never been asked to select a proxy. It is important to choose your own health care decision maker. In most states, if you don't choose a proxy, your spouse or your parents are automatically designated as your health care decision makers, which may not be the best choice for you.

For the full article, click here.

For more on health care proxies and medical directives, click here.