Building consensus for provision of breathlessness rehabilitation for patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and chronic heart failure

Chron Respir Dis. 2016 Aug;13(3):229-39. doi: 10.1177/1479972316642363. Epub 2016 Apr 12.


The study aimed to gain consensus on key priorities for developing breathlessness rehabilitation services for patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and chronic heart failure (CHF). Seventy-four invited stakeholders attended a 1-day conference to review the evidence base for exercise-based rehabilitation in COPD and CHF. In addition, 47 recorded their views on a series of statements regarding breathlessness rehabilitation tailored to the needs of both patient groups. A total of 75% of stakeholders supported symptom-based rather than disease-based rehabilitation for breathlessness with 89% believing that such services would be attractive for healthcare commissioners. A total of 87% thought patients with CHF could be exercised using COPD training principles and vice versa. A total of 81% felt community-based exercise training was safe for patients with severe CHF or COPD, but only 23% viewed manual-delivered rehabilitation an effective alternative to supervised exercise training. Although there was strong consensus that exercise training was a core component of rehabilitation in CHF and COPD populations, only 36% thought that this was the 'most important' component, highlighting the need for psychological and other non-exercise interventions for breathlessness. Patients with COPD and CHF face similar problems of breathlessness and disability on a background of multi-morbidity. Existing pulmonary and cardiac rehabilitation services should seek synergies to provide sufficient flexibility to accommodate all patients with COPD and CHF. Development of new services could consider adopting a patient-focused rather than disease-based approach. Exercise training is a core component, but rehabilitation should include other interventions to address dyspnoea, psychological and education needs of patients and needs of carers.

Keywords: Breathlessness; COPD; consensus; heart failure; rehabilitation.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Consensus*
  • Dyspnea / etiology
  • Dyspnea / rehabilitation*
  • Heart Failure / complications*
  • Heart Failure / rehabilitation
  • Humans
  • Pulmonary Disease, Chronic Obstructive / complications*
  • Pulmonary Disease, Chronic Obstructive / rehabilitation