Levels of personal control exercised by 76 adults with mental retardation were contrasted by substitute decision-making status. Individuals with no guardian or conservator exercised more personal control than did those with a conservator, who exerted more personal control than did participants with a guardian. Similar group differences in self-determination competencies were also observed. When self-determination competencies were controlled statistically, significant group differences in exercise of personal control remained. Restrictive substitute decision-making status, inappropriate to current competencies, may have constrained individuals' levels of personal control. Reviewing substitute decision-making status on a regular basis and limiting or removing guardianship/conservatorship when it is not appropriate, may enhance personal control.

This study was supported by Cooperative Agreement No. H133B80048 from the U.S. Department of Education, National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research (NIDRR). The opinions expressed are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the policy of the US. Department of Education, and endorsement by that department should not be assumed. Sincere thanks are given to all the participants, community living staff members, and representatives of residential provider agencies who participated in this project.

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