Design and delivery of home-based telehealth pulmonary rehabilitation programs in COPD: A systematic review and meta-analysis

Int J Med Inform. 2022 Mar 31;162:104754. doi: 10.1016/j.ijmedinf.2022.104754. Online ahead of print.


Rationale: Home-based telehealth pulmonary rehabilitation (HTPR) for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is increasingly common partly due to the COVID-19 pandemic. However, optimal HTPR programming has not been described. This review provides a comprehensive overview of the design, delivery, and effects of HTPR for people with COPD.

Methods: Relevant databases were searched to July 2021 for studies on adults with COPD utilizing information or communication technology to monitor or deliver HTPR. A meta-analysis was performed on a subset of randomized controlled trials.

Results: Of 3124 records retrieved, 38 studies evaluating 1993 individuals with stable COPD (age 54-75 and FEV1 31-92% predicted) were included. Program components included exercise and education (n = 17) or exercise alone (n = 15) with in-clinic baseline assessments commonly conducted (n = 26). Few trials (n = 7) featured synchronous virtual exercise supervision. Aerobic exercise commonly involved walking (n = 14) and cycling (n = 11) and most programs included resistance training (n = 25). Exercise progressions and emergency action plans were inconsistently reported. Meta-analysis demonstrated HTPR was comparable to outpatient PR and had a greater effect than usual care for the modified Medical Research Council dyspnea scale (mean difference [95 %CI]: -0.49 [-0.77, -0.22], p < 0.01) and COPD Assessment Test score (-4.90 [-7.13, -2.67], p < 0.01). Neither HTPR nor outpatient PR impacted sedentary time or step count. Only 6% of studies reported race and no studies reported participant ethnicity.

Conclusion: This review revealed the heterogeneity of HTPR program designs in COPD. HTPR programs had similar effects to outpatient PR programs and greater effects than usual care for people with COPD.

Keywords: COPD; Home Telecare; Pulmonary Rehabilitation; Telehealth; Telerehabilitation.

Publication types

  • Review