Objective: To characterize pulmonary rehabilitation (PR) programs in terms of their type, size, duration, patient population, content and staffing.
Design: Surveys were sent to members of the Rehabilitation Committee of the Canadian Thoracic Society, as well as any program identified by members of the Canadian Physiotherapy Cardio-Respiratory Society, by provincial lung associations or by the respondents.
Participants: Of 51 surveys sent, responses were received from 44 facilities (86% response rate). In-patient or out-patient pulmonary rehabilitation programs were offered by 36 facilities.
Results: Most programs (97%) admitted out-patients, and 22% had an in-patient capability. Out-patient programs enrolled 13 patients (median 11; range five to 48) at a given time for a duration of 8.3 weeks (range two to 26). In-patient programs enrolled nine patients at a given time (range two to 26) for 4.6 weeks (range one to eight). Programs included patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder (100%), restrictive disease (93%), asthma (82%), adults with cystic fibrosis (46%), patients pre- or postlung transplantation (45%) and patients receiving mechanical ventilatory support (18%). Breathing retraining, education and upper extremity training were incorporated in more than 90% of all programs. Only one-third of programs offered smoking cessation as part of the rehabilitation. Education sessions on medications and inhaler usage were included in most programs, but sexuality was addressed in only half the programs.
Conclusions: This first comprehensive national survey of PR programs in Canada shows that there are similarities in the format, content and staffing of PR programs. Programs are only able to service a small percentage of patients with chronic respiratory conditions.