Published: 21 October 2020

Authors: Abebaw M. Yohannes, PhD Sheila Dryden, Dip(Physiotherapy) Richard Casaburi, MD Nicola A. Hanania, MD

Source: This abstract has been sourced from NZ Respiratory Research Review Issue 186


    Pulmonary rehabilitation (PR) improves exercise capacity in patients with COPD in the short term.

    Research Question

    In patients with COPD, does 8 weeks of PR confer long-term benefits on symptoms of dyspnea, anxiety, and depression, and on quality of life, 2 years after completion?

    Study Design and Methods

    One hundred and sixty-five patients with COPD completed an 8-week, community-based, comprehensive PR program, comprising 2-h sessions twice weekly. Sessions included aerobic exercise and an educational program. Patients were encouraged to perform daily walking exercise up to 30 min at home. We evaluated a number of outcome measures at baseline, 8 weeks, and 2 years, including the following: dyspnea measured with the modified Medical Research Council (mMRC) questionnaire, quality of life assessed with the St. George’s Respiratory Questionnaire (SGRQ), and anxiety measured with the Anxiety Inventory for Respiratory Disease (AIR) and the Depression Anxiety Stress Scale (DASS). In addition, we measured exercise capacity, using the Incremental Shuttle Walk Test (ISWT), at baseline and 8 weeks.


    Mean age (SD) was 72 (8.6) years; 55% were men. At 8 weeks, improvements in mMRC, SGRQ, ISWT, DASS, and AIR were all statistically significant (P < .001). During the 2-year follow-up, changes observed at 8 weeks were maintained for anxiety symptoms, and for symptoms, impact, and total SGRQ scores. In multivariate analysis, initial elevated levels of dyspnea, depression, anxiety, and decreased exercise capacity predicted greater quality of life improvement at 2 years (all P < .001).


    Over a 2-year period, an effective 8-week PR program provides sustained improvement in anxiety and quality of life. Short-term improvements in dyspnea, depression, and stress symptoms at 8 weeks were not maintained at 2 years.

    Link to abstract

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