Managing chronic obstructive pulmonary disease in the community. A randomized controlled trial of home-based pulmonary rehabilitation for elderly housebound patients

J Cardiopulm Rehabil. 2005 Nov-Dec;25(6):378-85. doi: 10.1097/00008483-200511000-00012.


Purpose: Pulmonary rehabilitation is essential for managing chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Housebound COPD patients are frequently excluded from this treatment because they are unable to access outpatient pulmonary rehabilitation programs because of the severity of their disease. This randomized controlled trial assesses the effects of a 12-week home-based pulmonary rehabilitation program for 60 housebound COPD patients older than 60 years.

Methods: Intervention patients received an individually tailored supervised walking and arm exercise program as well as individual multidisciplinary education sessions on COPD and its management. Outcomes were assessed using the 6-minute walk test, St George's respiratory questionnaire, and Borg score of perceived breathlessness. Healthcare utilization was assessed using hospital admission rates with exacerbation of COPD and average length of stay at readmission.

Results: Complete data for 23 patients in each group were available for analysis. There was no significant difference between groups on baseline measures. Compared with the control group, intervention patients demonstrated a significant improvement in 6-minute walk test (P = .023), Borg score of perceived breathlessness (P = .024), St George's respiratory questionnaire total score (P = .020), and impact subscore (P = .024). At 6 months, the intervention group had a significantly shorter average length of stay at readmission to hospital with exacerbation (P = .035).

Conclusion: A 12-week home-based pulmonary rehabilitation is effective in improving exercise tolerance, perception of breathlessness, and quality of life for housebound COPD patients. To manage COPD in the community more effectively, health services should focus on expanding home-based pulmonary rehabilitation.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Dyspnea / diagnosis
  • Female
  • Home Care Services, Hospital-Based*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Outcome Assessment, Health Care
  • Patient Readmission
  • Pulmonary Disease, Chronic Obstructive / complications
  • Pulmonary Disease, Chronic Obstructive / rehabilitation*
  • Quality of Life
  • Surveys and Questionnaires