Background NICE (2010) recommend that pulmonary rehabilitation programmes run between 6–12 weeks in duration. To date, there is no consensus in the research to the optimal duration of a programme.
Objectives To investigate changes in patient outcomes over time for 6, 7 and 8 week pulmonary rehabilitation programmes.
To investigate differences in patient outcomes between 6, 7 and 8 week pulmonary rehabilitation programmes in order to identify optimal duration.
Setting: Community based pulmonary rehabilitation programmes in the East of England.
Participants: In total 363 participants completed one of the three pulmonary rehabilitation programmes. Patients with a chronic respiratory condition showing a commitment to the pulmonary rehabilitation programme and had no contraindications to exercise were included.
Intervention: Pulmonary rehabilitation twice a week for 6, 7 or 8 weeks.
Main outcome measures: St Georges Respiratory Questionnaire (SGRQ), Clinical COPD Questionnaire (CCQ), Hospital Anxiety and Depression Score (HADS) and Incremental Shuttle Walk Test (ISWT).
Results The t-tests indicated a statistically significant improvement in patients’ exercise capacity (measured by the ISWT) for all 3 programmes (p < 0.001). Patients attending the 8 week programme improved the most (increasing by 74.43 metres), followed by the 6 then 7 week programme (increasing by 57.24 and 48.96 metres respectively). The minimal clinically significant change for the ISWT is 47.5 metres so all the programmes improved by a clinically significant amount. When controlling for baseline ISWT scores the 8 week programme showed statistically significant improvements on post-rehabilitation ISWT scores above the 6 or 7 week programmes (F(2,341) = 6.72, p = 0.001).
Conclusions Findings show that greatest improvements in terms of exercise capacity may be seen from 8 week pulmonary rehabilitation programmes, but that improvement for the ISWT can be obtained from 6, 7 or 8 week programmes.
National Institute for Clinical Excellence. Commissioning a pulmonary rehabilitation service for patients with COPD. 2010. [http://www.nice.org.uk/usingguidance/commissioningguides/pulmonaryrehabilitationserviceforpatientswithcopd/commissioning.jsp] Accessed 13/07/13
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