Objectives: To compare the effectiveness of a once-weekly supervised pulmonary rehabilitation programme with a standard twice-weekly format.
Design: Randomised trial of equivalency.
Setting: Pulmonary rehabilitation service of a primary care trust delivered at two physiotherapy outpatient departments.
Participants: Thirty patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.
Outcome measures: Primary outcomes were the Incremental Shuttle Walking Test (ISWT), Endurance Shuttle Walking Test (ESWT) and St George's Respiratory Questionnaire (SGRQ), assessed at baseline and at completion of the supervised programme. Secondary outcomes were home-exercise activity, attendance levels and patient satisfaction with the programme.
Interventions: The once-weekly group (n=15) received one supervised rehabilitation session per week, and the twice-weekly group (n=15) received two sessions per week, both for 8 weeks, together with a home-exercise plan.
Results: After pulmonary rehabilitation, the groups showed similar improvements in exercise tolerance (median values: ISWT once-weekly 60metres, twice-weekly 50metres; ESWT once-weekly 226seconds, twice-weekly 109seconds). However, for health-related quality-of-life, the once-weekly group's score did not change (SGRQ 0), whereas an improvement was seen for the twice-weekly group (SGRQ 3.7). The number of home-exercise sessions and attendance levels were similar between the groups. Patient satisfaction with both formats was high and almost identical between the groups.
Conclusions: This pilot provides data to inform a larger study and shows that the methodology is feasible. The findings suggest that once-weekly supervision may be capable of producing equivalent improvements in exercise tolerance as a twice-weekly programme, but the health-related quality-of-life outcome appeared to be poorer for once-weekly supervision.