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Chest. 1993 Jan;103(1):42-5.

The long-term benefits of outpatient pulmonary rehabilitation on exercise endurance and quality of life.

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  • 1University of Connecticut School of Medicine, Farmington.


Although it is generally accepted that outpatient pulmonary rehabilitation (OPR) improves exercise performance and quality of life (QOL), it is not well established whether these gains are sustained over time. To evaluate this, we attempted to contact the 71 patients who had completed our 6-week OPR program for follow-up 12-min walking distance (12 MD) and QOL measurements. Fifty-one patients (71.8 percent) returned for follow-up testing 11.0 +/- 6.1 months following OPR. Of these, 19 had participated in a structured post-OPR exercise maintenance (EM) program, while 32 had not (non-EM). The 12 MD increased from 2,300 +/- 611 ft at baseline to 2,789 +/- 622 ft post-OPR, while the QOL (higher is better) increased from 81.2 +/- 21.4 to 104.7 +/- 22.2 over this period (both, p < 0.0001). Although the 12 MD decreased by 10.6 +/- 15.8 percent to 2,539 +/- 803 ft at follow-up (p < 0.001), it remained 10.3 +/- 23.4 percent greater than baseline (p < 0.001). Similarly, despite decreasing by 7.6 +/- 13.6 percent to 96.4 +/- 23.3 (p < 0.005), the follow-up QOL remained 22.8 +/- 35.0 percent greater than baseline (p < 0.005). The post-OPR to follow-up declines in 12 MD and QOL were not significantly different between EM and non-EM patients. Thus, only a portion of the initial improvement in exercise endurance and QOL is lost at follow-up months later. Post-OPR EM did not appear to provide measurable long-term advantages.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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