In chronic respiratory disease pulmonary rehabilitation provides benefits for some but not all participants. The aim of this study was to identify subjects who benefitted from out-patient pulmonary rehabilitation and determine what characteristics could explain differences between responders and non-responders.
A chart review was performed on all candidates for out-patient pulmonary rehabilitation during 2000–2008. Patient data was collected for those who were evaluated for the program, participated, declined, or were denied enrolment or who were lost to follow-up. Success was defined by clinically important change in the St. George's respiratory questionnaire and/or in the 6-minute walk distance.
Of 525 patients evaluated for out-patient pulmonary rehabilitation, 227(43%) participated. Participants were primarily men (56 %) with a mean age of 69(10) years. Of those who participated 137 (61%) were successful. Successful participants had greater forced expired volume in 1 second (FEV1) (1.3 vs 1.1 L) (p < 0.05) and body mass index (BMI) at baseline (30 vs 28) (p < 0.05). There was no relationship with age, gender, chronic hypoxemic respiratory failure or other chronic conditions such as stable heart disease. Successful participants were more likely to be adherent and experience fewer adverse events (p≤0.001). There was no correlation between BMI, FEV1 and adverse events or failure to complete the program.
This study reinforces that the majority of participants benefit from out-patient pulmonary rehabilitation and that few commonly measured baseline characteristics can predict success. However our study confirmed that many patients considered in need of pulmonary rehabilitation do not enter the program, suggesting that more effort should be made to encourage and facilitate participation.
Pulmonary rehabilitation has proven to be a successful intervention for various respiratory illnesses and should be made available to more patients within our respective health care communities.
Adrienne Scott, No Financial Disclosure Information; No Product/Research Disclosure Information