Long-term efficacy of pulmonary rehabilitation with home-based or low frequent maintenance programs in patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease: a meta-analysis

Ann Palliat Med. 2020 Sep;9(5):2606-2615. doi: 10.21037/apm-19-581. Epub 2020 Aug 14.


Background: The short-term efficacy of pulmonary rehabilitation (PR) in patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) has been established. Although continuous follow-up and sustained exercise training is important to maintain the effects, the long-term efficacy of PR without frequent supervised training remains unclear. The aim of this meta-analysis was to investigate the long-term efficacy of PR with home-based or low frequent maintenance program on exercise capacity and health related quality of life (HRQOL) in patients with COPD.

Methods: We identified randomized controlled trials (RCTs) comparing long-term efficacy of PR with home-based or low frequent maintenance and no maintenance program from PubMed and the Cochrane Library. Primary outcomes were exercise capacity [6-minute walking distance (6MWD), incremental shuttle walking test (ISWT)] and HRQOL [St. George's Respiratory Questionnaire (SGRQ)]. Outcomes were combined using a random-effects model. This study is registered with PROSPERO, number CRD42019109718.

Results: Seven RCTs with a total of 492 patients with COPD met the inclusion criteria. PR with maintenance significantly improved 6MWD [mean difference (MD) 27.00; 95% CI: 1.04-52.96; P=0.01] and ISWT (MD 44.48; 95% CI: 30.70-58.25; P<0.01), however no statistical evidence of improvement in HRQOL (MD -1.32; 95% CI: -7.71 to 5.08, P=0.69) was observed.

Conclusions: PR with maintenance programs appears to be more effective than without maintenance for preserving exercise capacity in the long-term in patients with COPD. No long-term efficacy on HRQOL were noted. To maintain the efficacy of PR on exercise capacity and HRQOL over a long duration, it might be necessary to reexamine the contents and frequency of maintenance programs.

Keywords: Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD); long-term efficacy; maintenance; meta-analysis; pulmonary rehabilitation (PR).

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis

MeSH terms

  • Humans
  • Pulmonary Disease, Chronic Obstructive*
  • Quality of Life
  • Surveys and Questionnaires