Pulmonary rehabilitation plays an essential role in the management of symptomatic patients with COPD. The benefits of rehabilitation include a decrease in dyspnoea and fatigue, and improvements in exercise tolerance and health-related quality of life. Importantly, rehabilitation reduces hospitalization for acute exacerbations and is cost-effective. Although most of the evidence for pulmonary rehabilitation has been obtained in patients with COPD, symptomatic individuals with other respiratory diseases have been shown to benefit. In this review we outline a stepwise approach to establish, deliver and evaluate a pulmonary rehabilitation program (PRP) that would be feasible in most settings. Throughout the review we have specified the minimum requirements for a PRP to facilitate the establishment of programs using limited resources. Recommendations for staffing and other resources required for a PRP are presented in the first section. Exercise training is a focus of the section on program delivery as this is the component of rehabilitation that has the strongest level of evidence for benefit. Program considerations for patients with respiratory conditions other than COPD are described. Different approaches for delivering the education component of a PRP are outlined and recommendations are made regarding topics for group and individual sessions. The problems commonly encountered in pulmonary rehabilitation, together with recommendations to avoid these problems and strategies to assist in their resolution, are discussed. The review concludes with recommendations for evaluating a PRP.
© 2010 The Authors; Respirology © 2010 Asian Pacific Society of Respirology.