Study objectives: The purpose of this study was to evaluate the effects of a 3-week comprehensive pulmonary rehabilitation program on quality of life as measured by the Short Form-36 (SF-36) in patients with COPD.
Design and setting: We report on the outcomes of 37 consecutive patients referred for pulmonary rehabilitation at a respiratory specialty medical center.
Patients: Thirty-seven patients (mean age, 66 years) with COPD and severe airflow limitation (mean +/- SE FEV(1), 29.6 +/- 1.8% of predicted) were studied.
Interventions: Rehabilitation consisted of a 3-week pulmonary rehabilitation program incorporating 12 exercise sessions, each of which included bicycle ergometer exercise training, upper-extremity training, strength training, and stretching, along with psychosocial counseling and education.
Measurements and results: The Health Status Index (SF-36) and 6-min walk test were completed before and after rehabilitation. There was an improvement in five of the nine quality-of-life subscales of the SF-36 following pulmonary rehabilitation. Although there was an improvement in functional capacity as measured by the 6-min walk, there was no correlation between improvement in quality of life and improvement in functional capacity. There was no correlation between FEV(1) and improvement in walk distance, but there was a correlation between FEV(1) and improvement in SF-36 physical function and energy/fatigue subscales.
Conclusion: Health-related quality of life assessed by the SF-36, a general measure of quality of life, improves following an intensive 3-week pulmonary rehabilitation program. Use of the SF-36 allows comparison of the results of pulmonary rehabilitation to therapeutic interventions in patients with other medical disorders.