Long-term effectiveness of pulmonary rehabilitation in patients with chronic airway obstruction

K. Foglio, L. Bianchi, G. Bruletti, L. Battista, M. Pagani, N. Ambrosino

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The aim of this study was to evaluate the long-term outcome of an outpatient pulmonary rehabilitation programme (PRP) in patients with chronic airway obstruction (CAO). In 61 CAO patients (35 asthmatics and 26 chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)) lung and respiratory muscle function, exercise tolerance (by symptom limited cycloergometer and walking tests), dyspnoea (Borg scale, visual analogue scale (VAS), baseline and transitional dyspnoea index (BDI and TDI, respectively)) and quality of life (St George's Respiratory Questionnaire (SGRQ)) were assessed at baseline (t0), at discharge (t1) and 12 months postdischarge (t2). Preprogramme and postprogramme hospital admissions and exacerbations of disease were also recorded. In comparison with baseline, no significant change was observed in lung function tests in either diagnostic group, either at t1 or at t2. In both groups improvements in respiratory muscle strength, exercise tolerance, Borg scale and VAS reported at t1 were partially reduced at t2. Analysis of variance showed that these changes over time were similar in the two groups. Mean values of SGRQ and BDI/TDI improved at t1, and, unlike exercise tolerance, did not worsen at t2. However, a clinically relevant difference in SGRQ between t2 and to was reported only in 56% of asthmatics and 52% of COPD patients. Compared with the preceding 2 yrs, in the year following PRP, hospital admissions and disease exacerbations decreased significantly in both diagnostic groups. Regardless of diagnosis, patients with chronic airway obstruction who underwent an outpatient pulmonary rehabilitation programme maintained an improved quality of life 12 months postdischarge despite a partial loss of the improvement in exercise tolerance.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)125-132
Number of pages8
JournalEuropean Respiratory Journal
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1999


  • Bronchial asthma
  • Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease
  • Dyspnoea
  • Exercise tolerance
  • Quality of life

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine


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