Home-based rehabilitation for patients with COPD: organization, effects and financial implications

Monaldi Arch Chest Dis. 2000 Apr;55(2):130-4.


Rehabilitation in patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) has been shown to be an effective treatment and can be carried out in different settings, i.e. inpatient, outpatient or home-based. This review focuses on home-based rehabilitation and four important issues are discussed. 1) Which patients should received home-based rehabilitation? 2) How should home-based rehabilitation be organized? 3) What are the effects of home-based rehabilitation? 4) What are the financial implications. Home-based rehabilitation is an attractive approach for most patients with COPD. However, there is some evidence that patients who are severely disabled due to dyspnoea do not gain benefit from home-based rehabilitation. This might not be the appropriate setting for this group, and these patients are probably better candidates for an inpatient or outpatient multidisciplinary approach. After initial evaluation of the patient by a pulmonary physician, home-based rehabilitation can be set up in two different ways. Firstly, the patients can receive their instructions at the hospital: a detailed exercise programme can be developed that the patients can perform unsupervised at home with regular follow-up at the outpatient clinic. Second, home rehabilitation can be fully addressed at home with instruction and regular supervision by a local team. At this moment, it is not clear which disciplines, i.e. what kinds of intervention, are needed in a home rehabilitation team. Nevertheless, the key element of home-based rehabilitation is exercise training, which is the same for the other settings. Short-term studies with a maximum duration of 12 weeks showed increased exercise tolerance, decreased dyspnoea and improved quality of life. Conversely, the effects of long-term home-based rehabilitation are not clearly established. The need for long-term supervision is still open to debate: contradictory results have been shown regarding dyspnoea and exercise tolerance. Cost/benefit analysis showed positive trends in reduction in hospitalization rate and reduction of total costs; however, these results came from uncontrolled studies.

MeSH terms

  • Cost-Benefit Analysis
  • Exercise Tolerance
  • Home Care Services / economics
  • Home Care Services / organization & administration*
  • Humans
  • Lung Diseases, Obstructive / economics
  • Lung Diseases, Obstructive / physiopathology
  • Lung Diseases, Obstructive / rehabilitation*
  • Treatment Outcome