The Cost-Effectiveness of Pulmonary Rehabilitation for COPD in Different Settings: A Systematic Review

Appl Health Econ Health Policy. 2021 May;19(3):313-324. doi: 10.1007/s40258-020-00613-5. Epub 2020 Oct 20.


Background: Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) has high morbidity and mortality rates. COPD impairs body functioning, reduces quality of life, and creates a great economic burden for society. Pulmonary rehabilitation (PR) has become an important nonpharmacological treatment for COPD. This paper systematically reviews economic evaluations of PR in COPD patients in different settings.

Objectives: We aimed to understand the cost-effectiveness of PR in different settings for COPD to provide economic evidence for decision-makers.

Methods: We searched eight databases from their inception to 23 November 2019. The results were presented in terms of an incremental cost-effectiveness ratio (ICER), and the decision uncertainty was expressed by cost-effectiveness acceptability curves (CEACs). We used the Consensus on Health Economic Criteria to assess study quality.

Results: This review included ten studies that matched the selection criteria. Five studies compared PR with usual care in primary healthcare or outpatient departments. Two studies compared community-based PR with hospital PR or usual care. In the other studies, PR was mainly carried out at home. Compared with usual care, PR was cost-effective in primary healthcare institutions or outpatient departments. According to CEACs, community-based PR had a 50% probability of cost-effectiveness at £30,000/quality-adjusted life year (QALY) compared with hospital PR in the UK. Based on the ICER, community-based PR was "moderately" cost-effective, with a ratio of €32,425/QALY compared with usual care in the Netherlands. Home-based PR was dominant compared with usual care, and tele-rehabilitation was dominant compared with traditional home PR.

Conclusions: PR conducted in different settings can potentially be cost-effective, as measured using QALY or the Chronic Respiratory Questionnaire (CRQ).

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Cost-Benefit Analysis
  • Humans
  • Netherlands
  • Pulmonary Disease, Chronic Obstructive*
  • Quality of Life*
  • Quality-Adjusted Life Years