Objective: To identify and compare objective and self-perceived characteristics of patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, who do and do not choose rehabilitation.
Subjects: The study comprised 205 consecutive patients with mild to very severe chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. They chose either inpatient rehabilitation (n = 161) or ordinary outpatient consultations (n = 44).
Measurements: Disease severity was assessed with spirometric tests, health-related quality of life was assessed with the St George's Respiratory Questionnaire, and mental status was measured using the Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale. Socio-demographic and social characteristics, and co-morbidity variables were available.
Results: Patients in the rehabilitation group had a lower level of overall health-related quality of life (63.8 vs 47.6, p = 0.000) and a higher prevalence of anxiety (34.6% vs 13.6%, p = 0.007) than the outpatients. The outpatients received more psychological support from spouse/partner than patients in the rehabilitation group (70.5% vs 49.1%, p = 0.012). There were no differences in disease severity and co-morbidity.
Conclusion: The decision to choose rehabilitation may be determined by impaired health-related quality of life, psychological distress and lack of psychological support from a significant other. Our findings suggest that patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease are conscious of their overall health status and the necessary treatment to maintain or improve it.