Study objectives: A prospective longitudinal study to investigate if a simple outpatient-based pulmonary rehabilitation program (PRP) can improve health outcome and hospital utilization in patients with COPD.
Patients: Patients with COPD and FEV1 < 60% predicted.
Setting: Outpatient physiotherapy department at a district general hospital (Fairfield Hospital, Sydney, Australia).
Intervention: Completion of a simple PRP.
Results: Thirty-six patients with COPD completed the PRP. Improved exercise endurance (mean ± SD 6-min walking distance increased from 333 ± 76 to 423 ± 107 m [p < 0.001]), reduced dyspnea scale, and improved quality-of-life measurements were found. There was no improvement in lung functions (FEV1 preprogram mean, 0.97 ± 0.43 L; postprogram mean, 0.96 ± 0.42 L). In the 12 months following completion of program, hospitalization and length of stay were reduced compared to prior to starting the program (preprogram, 7.4 days; postprogram, 3.3 days; p < 0.005).
Conclusions: A simple, low-cost, outpatient PRP was able to improve health outcome for patients with COPD. Hospital utilization and health cost were reduced as well.