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.
© The Author(s) 2016.