A prospective qualitative exploration of views about attending pulmonary rehabilitation

Physiother Res Int. 2009 Sep;14(3):181-92. doi: 10.1002/pri.435.


Background and purpose: Pulmonary rehabilitation has been found to be an effective strategy for managing chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). However, attendance at such programmes is not optimal, therefore, this study aimed to develop an in-depth understanding of views regarding attendance at pulmonary rehabilitation and experiences which may have shaped these views.

Methods: An inductive qualitative study was carried out within the framework of Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis. Five female and four male individuals with COPD who had been referred for pulmonary rehabilitation participated in semi-structured interviews. Interviews were conducted prior to participation in pulmonary rehabilitation.

Results: Three main themes were identified that related to views about attending pulmonary rehabilitation. The first is entitled 'Desired benefits of attending pulmonary rehabilitation', which described realistic hopes about impact on daily life. The second theme was called 'Evaluating the threat of exercise', and it encompassed both positive and negative evaluations; some interviewees described fear and avoidance of exercise, while others were determined to overcome symptoms. These attitudes extended to views about pulmonary rehabilitation. The third theme was called 'Attributing value to pulmonary rehabilitation'. Contrasting opinions about the value of attending pulmonary rehabilitation appeared to be influenced by the nature of prior interactions with health personnel and systems as well as information about the programme provided at referral. The referrer's attitude towards pulmonary rehabilitation appeared to be particularly influential.

Conclusion: In summary, when considering rehabilitation attendance, potential participants are able to identify possible benefits, but previous experiences of symptoms and attitudes towards their condition can influence views both positively and negatively. Information and enthusiasm conveyed by the referring clinician, as well as previous interactions with health professionals can have powerful impact on views about attending. Referral practices should be informative and enthusiastic to increase the likelihood of uptake.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Attitude to Health
  • Bronchitis / rehabilitation
  • Exercise / psychology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Prospective Studies
  • Pulmonary Disease, Chronic Obstructive / psychology
  • Pulmonary Disease, Chronic Obstructive / rehabilitation*