Family involvement in medical decision making is a common practice in China due to the influence of Confucianism, which emphasizes the family as an organic unit. Instead of speaking of the individual’s right to choose and make a decision, the Confucian model for “informed consent” calls for “family co-decision making” or “co-determination.” The essay argues that China has long-standing moral traditions such as Confucianism, with its inherent ethical views toward family values that are still pertinent to a person’s daily life in general and bio-medical issues in particular.
The author points out that those who acknowledge the role of the family in medical decision making feel much more satisfied. Sometimes both medical and non-medical burdens related to family roles and relationships are taken into consideration, but a patient who has good family relationships would rather family members be actively involved in the decision making. In addition, as young people are becoming increasingly individualistic under the influence of Western culture, family medical co-decision making can promote the Confucian values of family, family responsibility, and the well-being of individuals.